The commonest symptoms of food poisoning are diaorrhea, stomach cramps, general fatigue and vomiting. These occur about four to eight hours after eating contaminated foods or fluids. In most cases the symptoms last from a few hours to a couple of days. In cases of profuse diaorrhea or vomiting dehydration can set it. The key signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, dark concentrated urine, sunken eyes, irritability or dullness in children, rapid heartbeat, weakness, dizziness, confusion and lightheadedness. It is important to look for these signs because lack of insufficient fluid and electrolytes in the body can be lethal.
Food poisoning is caused by toxins or viral, bacterial and parasitic agents. And the treatment partly depends on what gave you the food poisoning and how sick you are. Seek professional help for these groups of people.
A word of caution: Food poisoning is more dangerous in adults over 60 years, children, babies, pregnant women and people with chronic illness or weak immune system.
Tips on Prevention: Do not eat meats, stews or gravies that have been left unrefrigerated for too long. Clean your vegetables and fruits well. Avoid eating raw or under cooked meats and unpasteurized milk. Be careful when you choose to eat raw sea food.
- Take lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. This could include ginger or peppermint tea, fresh orange juice, clear soups and water. Avoid milk, caffeine, alcohol, fizzy drinks
- Avoid eating food for the about 8-12 hours to allow your stomach to settle. Once you restart eating, eat bland nutritious foods in small portions. Avoid spicy and fatty foods. Foods that are gentle on the stomach include bananas, cereals, oatmeal, honey, egg whites, potatoes, rice and toast
- Get plenty of rest. Rest is an important part of healing.
- Over the counter, you can buy oral rehydration salts to mix into drinking water, and probiotic formulations (such as enterogermina® or floranorm®) for ingesting.
NB: See a doctor if the following occurs; a) the vomiting persists for 12-24 hours, b) persistent fever c) signs of dehydration sets; or d) diaorrhea persists for more than 3 days.
SOME COMMON HOME REMEDY AGENTS AND TIPS TO KEEP AT HOME
Ginger: Has been used to treat stomachaches, diarrhea nausea, and vomiting and sore throats. However, some people do not tolerate it well. They get tummy trouble, heartburn, diarrhea, and gas.
Hot Bath: Good for muscle and tendon sprains that cause pain. Once the area is warmed up give it a gentle stretch and work those areas while in the bath tub. The water should not be too hot as it may burn the skin. The ideal temperature is between 33o and 37.8o Celsius.
Ice Pack: These help to reduce the pain and swelling that comes after a soft tissue injury within the first 48 hours. To make an ice pack use a bag of frozen peas/beans or simply a plastic bag or wet towel with ice. Never use ice for more than 20 minutes. Ensure to take it off if your skin gets red.
Peppermint and mint: These have been used for hundreds of years as a health remedy for some ailments. Peppermint oil has been used for irritable bowel syndrome which presents with stomach cramps bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. For some people it is also help when headaches set in.
Petroleum Jelly: This is used for any number of things: It can help the skin keep its moisture and prevent chapping on the inside of the thighs when you walk or run for long distances. It also can help protect the baby’s skin from diaper rash.
Turmeric powder: Tumeric powder has antiseptic properties that are useful in wound care. Applying a generous amount of the powder on a fresh cut will stop the bleeding and prevent further infection
The powder can also be made into a paste by mixing it with warm water. Gently apply the paste to the wound and cover with a bandage or gauze.
Turmeric is a strong natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agent. It is also known to improved brain function, high cholesterol and lower the risk of several diseases such as depression, cancer, heart disease. Additionally, turmeric is thought to be a pain reliever for osteoarthritis.
Remember ! ‘Maumivu Ya Kizidi, Muone Daktari’.