Food Poisoning

Symptoms of food poisoning depend on the type of contaminant and the amount eaten. The symptoms can develop rapidly, within 30 minutes, or slowly, worsening over days to weeks. Most of the common contaminants cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Usually food poisoning is not serious, and the illness runs its course in 24-48 hours.

Viruses account for most food poisoning cases where a specific contaminant is found.
 

Bacteria can cause food poisoning in two different ways. Some bacteria infect the intestines, causing inflammation and difficulty absorbing nutrients and water, leading to diarrhea. Other bacteria produce chemicals in foods (known as toxins) that are poisonous to the human digestive system. When eaten, these chemicals can lead to nausea and vomiting, kidney failure, and even death.

Parasites rarely cause food poisoning. When they do, they are usually swallowed in contaminated or untreated water and cause long-lasting but mild symptoms.

Toxic agents are the least common cause of food poisoning. Illness is often an isolated episode caused by poor food preparation or selection (such as picking wild mushrooms).



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