Food Poisoning: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

With the right measures taken, this very common illness can also be very preventable.

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With Father’s Day fast approaching and family meals being planned, food poisoning may be the last thing you want to think about. Following the food safety tips below will ensure everyone remembers your meal for the right reasons.

Food poisoning is a miserable experience that strikes millions each year, and many of us know it all too well. Caused by eating contaminated food or drinks tainted with harmful toxins, bacteria, viruses, or parasites, it’s mindlessly easy to get, but also largely preventable with the right precautions in place.

Read on to learn about what causes food poisoning, how to prevent it, and ways to treat it.

 

What makes us sick?

The culprits behind food poisoning are varied. Common bacterial offenders include salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter. These can cause nasty cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Antibiotics may be prescribed for severe bacterial infections, but often rest and fluids are the best course of action.

Parasites like Giardia can also wreak havoc, causing similar symptoms along with bloating and gas. Anti-parasitic medication is typically needed to eradicate these unwelcome guests.

 

| According to the CDC: Each year 48 million people get sick from food poisoning, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 cases are fatal |

 

Prevention is Key

Follow these food safety tips and prevent getting sick in the first place!

  • Safe Handling: Practice proper hygiene in the kitchen. Wash hands thoroughly before handling food, and clean surfaces regularly.
  • Cook it Right: Ensure meats reach proper internal temperatures to kill bacteria. Use a food thermometer for accurate readings.
  • Chilling Out: Refrigerate leftovers promptly and avoid reheating food multiple times.
  • Beware BBQ’s and Buffets: Be cautious at buffets, potlucks and BBQ’s, especially during hot weather, as food can spoil more quickly.
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Treatments for Food Poisoning

Treatment for food poisoning depends on the cause and severity of the symptoms:

  • Bacterial Infections: Mild bacterial food poisoning often resolves without specific treatment. For severe cases, antibiotics like ciprofloxacin or azithromycin may be prescribed.
  • Viral Infections: There is no specific treatment for viral food poisoning; supportive care, such as hydration and rest, is essential.
  • Parasitic Infections: Antiparasitic medications, such as metronidazole or nitazoxanide, are used to treat parasitic infections.

In all cases, maintaining hydration is crucial, as food poisoning often causes significant fluid loss through vomiting and diarrhea.

 

Increased Risk in the Summer and During Travel

The risk of food poisoning is always present, but the warmer weather, or traveling to new destinations can increase the odds of encountering the dreaded belly rumble.

 ✈️ Food poisoning is more likely when traveling because your body is not used to the local bacteria in the food and water, potentially exposing you to pathogens that are not common back home. This is especially true when traveling to regions with different sanitation standards. Drinking bottled water, avoiding raw foods, and eating at reputable establishments can help reduce this risk.

☀️ Bacteria-based food poisoning is more prevalent in the summertime due to warmer temperatures, which promote bacterial growth. Foods left out at picnics, barbecues, or buffets can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria – highlighted recently by the state of Oregon.

 

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| This past week the FDA issued a warning, saying to take extra precautions while eating shellfish – particularly oysters and clams – after 21 people have been sickened in the northwest in the past month. |

Fortunately, most of the time passing the food, rehydrating, and resting are enough to recover. OTC medications like Loperamide (Immodium), and Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) can help alleviate the symptoms during your recovery.

In more serious cases antibiotics such as Azithromycin, and Ciprofloxacin (both come in every Jase Case) can be used for food poisoning stemming from bacteria.

When it comes to food poisoning, be vigilant! Clean your cooking surfaces, wash your hands, and know your food sources! Always remember, when in doubt, throw it out. If food seems off, don’t eat it!

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Navigating Spring’s Waters: Hydration, Recreation, and the Risk of Giardia

The Importance of Timely Antibiotic Intervention

Even crystal clear water can conceal hidden hazards.

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Spring Brings water, water brings risks. 

With spring in full swing and temperatures rising, our thirst (pun intended) for water grows as well. This applies to both the need to stay hydrated and the desire to cool off in our pools, lakes and rivers. As we welcome this wave of water in our lives, it’s important to remember that exposure to hidden perils, such as water-borne illnesses like Giardia, also rises.

 

 

Giardia is the most common intestinal parasitic disease in the U.S. and affects about 1 million people a year.

 

Just how easy is it to get infected?

Giardia spreads very easily. While most commonly contracted through exposure to contaminated water, it can also be spread through contaminated food, surfaces, objects, and even exposure to a person infected with the parasite.

It’s not only potentially contaminated drinking water sources you have to worry about when camping or spending time in the outdoors, but also natural and man-made bodies of water you may use for swimming or water sports (lakes, ponds rivers, streams, public water supplies, wells, cisterns, swimming pools, water parks and spas).

Faucets can provide a false sense of security. Also of high concern is questionable tap water in certain areas you may travel to. Even if you don’t drink it, you may still likely use it for brushing your teeth or showering – which can potentially expose you to Giardia just the same.

What can you do? The best thing you can do to mitigate exposure is be cautious of the sources of the water you consume, and be aware of the potential animals in the surroundings of the water you swim and play in – as they likely use that water too.

Bring your own drinking water or only consume bottled water in places you travel to. If you must use tap water for drinking in a location you are unsure of, then boil the water, use a water filter, or purification tablets.

What if I get exposed to Giardia? Fortunately Giardia infection is not fatal, but can lead to complications in certain individuals if not treated. Reactive arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and recurring diarrhea that can last for years are among the worst prognoses one can be diagnosed with.

 

 

Exposure Rates are High, Effective Treatment is Available

Metronidazole for Treatment of Giardia Infections:

The good news is treatment for Giardiasis exists and is very effective. Metronidazole is the most common and potent medication for Giardia infection, but is not available over the counter. A 5-7 day course of Metronidazole tablets is usually enough to eliminate the infection and its symptoms in over 90% of patients.

Why you should have Metronidazole on hand:

In addition to treating parasitic Giardia infections, Metronidazole is also used to treat certain skin infections, rosacea, oral infections including infected gums or dental abscesses, and bacterial vaginosis and pelvic inflammatory infections.

While you can’t pick up Metronidazole at the store on your family weekend getaway, you can have it with you in our Jase Case, as one of the standard medications our kits come with.

Each standard Jase Case also comes with medications for other infections and illnesses including pneumonia, sinus infection, urinary tract infections, traveller’s diarrhea, Lyme disease, skin, infections and more.

And you can customize your Jase Case with over 30 available add on medications from EpiPens (anaphylaxis), to Ivermectin (parasitic infections), to treat just about anything you may encounter from Influenza (Oseltamivir) to Malaria (Atovaquone-Proguanil).

If there were a prescription for peace of mind, it would be a Jase Case.

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