SCRIPT NUMBER 88 FOOD POISONING (ONE SPEAKER)

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1 SCRIPT NUMBER 88 FOOD POISONING (ONE SPEAKER) PROGRAM NAME: HEALTH NUGGETS PROGRAM TITLE: FOOD POISONING PROGRAM NUMBER: 88 SUBJECT: CAUSES, DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT, PREVENTION OF FOOD POISONING KEY WORDS: CONTAMINATED, BACTERIA, VIRUSES, PARASITES, VOMITUS, IMMUNE SYSTEM, DEHYDRATION, ESSENTIAL SALTS DATE OF SCRIPT: NOVEMBER 30, 2012 AUTHOR: RICHARD YUKL, MD, FACS Take a moment to consider the following, sad situation. You have looked forward to your family coming together for a family reunion for months. Now, the day has arrived, and relatives have come from far and near, each bringing with them their favorite food. You have a grand meal together, but within several hours, your guests begin to feel sick one by one, some with nausea and vomiting, and others with diarrhea. It seems as though no one has been spared. Today, I would like to talk with you about food poisoning. Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating food that has become contaminated by various bacteria,

2 viruses or parasites, or the poisons they produce. Food can be contaminated at any point - as it grows, as it is being harvested or as it is processed if it is incorrectly handled or cooked. Food poisoning is an especially troublesome problem for raw, ready-to-eat foods such as salads or other vegetables. These foods are not cooked before they are eaten, so the harmful organisms they may contain are not destroyed. As in our story, symptoms of food poisoning include common complaints such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which can start just hours after eating the contaminated food, and can last up to ten days. Most often, food poisoning is mild and resolves without any specific treatment. But, in some cases, symptoms can become so severe as to require hospitalization. Medical attention becomes necessary if blood begins to show in the vomitus or the diarrhea, if a high fever develops, or if signs of dehydration develop because of the large amount of fluid that has been lost from the body. Factors that determine if you develop symptoms after eating contaminated food include the specific organism that has contaminated your food, the amount of exposure you have had, your age and your over-all health. You depend on the immune system with which you were created to fight against organisms that can attack you and make you sick. You are at an increased risk of developing food poisoning symptoms if you are an older adult, because, as you age, your immune system does not respond to invading organisms as quickly or as effectively as when you were young. Other groups at high-risk are infants and young children,

3 because their immune systems are not yet fully developed, and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, liver disease or AIDS, because their immune response has become ineffective. Dehydration is a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals from your body. It is the most common complication of food poisoning, and it is dangerous. You must be concerned about it. Healthy adults can drink enough fluids to replace what they lose through vomiting and diarrhea. For them, dehydration isn t a major concern. On the other hand, people at high-risk those older adults, children and people with suppressed immune systems those people can become severely dehydrated. In extreme cases, the dehydration can even be fatal. They need intensive therapy in a hospital. Your doctor will make the diagnosis of food poisoning based on the detailed history of how long you ve been sick, your symptoms and the specific foods you have eaten, as well as a physical examination, blood tests and examination of your stool looking for abnormal organisms. Treatment will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms. For most people, the symptoms are mild and will resolve within a few days without need of any specific treatment. Get plenty of rest, because you will feel very weak and tired. Stop eating and drinking for a few hours. Then, try drinking clear liquids such as clear broths or non-caffeinated sports drinks, taking small, frequent sips. Adults need to drink eight to sixteen glasses of liquid every day. You'll know that

4 you're getting enough fluids when the volume of your urine returns to normal, and your urine is clear and not dark. Gradually begin to eat easy-to-digest foods such as soda crackers, toast, bananas and rice as your nausea clears, stopping if your nausea returns. You will need to avoid eating some types of food. Dairy products can worsen your symptoms. Caffeine and alcohol can worsen your dehydration. Fatty foods, highly seasoned foods and tobacco can irritate your intestinal lining, causing your symptoms to increase. Even medicines intended to treat diarrhea can slow the elimination of bacteria or poisons from your body, making your condition worse. Avoid eating these foods and products. If symptoms and fluid losses are severe, especially in older adults and in children, treatment needs to be done in a hospital where the doctor can replace fluids and essential salts by vein rather than by mouth. Treatment by vein provides the body with water and essential nutrients much faster than replacement by mouth. Antibiotics may be required if certain kinds of bacteria have caused your severe poisoning symptoms. You can take some measures to lower your risk of developing food poisoning in the first place. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. Also, keep raw foods that could possibly be contaminated separate from other foods to prevent cross-contamination. Refrigerate or freeze foods that can spoil, and do it within two hours of

5 purchasing or preparing them. Finally, if you are not sure that a food has been prepared or stored safely, don t taste it, throw it away. One final step you can take to lower the risks of food poisoning - if you suspect you have developed food poisoning, whether it is a mild or a severe case, contact your local health department. Your report can help them identify a potential outbreak, and that may help prevent others from getting sick. Health Nuggets is written by Dr. Richard Yukl, a medical doctor working in the United States. The medical views expressed in this program are his and may differ for your particular health needs. If you need medical advice, please consult a medical professional in your area.

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