Who are at Risk of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is actually food borne illness caused by bacteria, virus, parasites or toxins produced by microorganisms. Eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water (or other liquid/fluid) is the commonest cause of food poisoning. Water available to us from natural sources is always contaminated (by bacteria, virus, parasites or toxins produced by them) in some way and need to be purified (by water purifier or some other method) before making it drinkable. Food can be contaminated at any time from processing/production to consumption. Canned foods, preserved foods are at greater risk of contamination than freshly prepared/cooked foods.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

Symptoms of food poisoning can start within few hours (for example staphylococcus aureus takes only 1-6 hours, whereas campylobacter takes 2-5 days for symptoms to appear) of eating contaminated food or it may take few days, depending on the type of food eaten and type of contaminating agent (such as bacteria, virus, toxin etc.).

Symptoms of food poisoning vary according to the type of offending agent. However, most food poisoning cases produce following symptoms:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Abdominal cramp or severe abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea, watery in nature and dehydration as a result
  • Fever

These symptoms may last few hours to several days. If symptoms are mild, no treatment may be required. However, most food poisoning cases require adequate medical attention.

Who are at risk of food poisoning?

Certain group of people are at greater risk or vulnerable to food poisoning such as children and infants, elderly individuals, people with chronic disease, pregnant women etc. You become sick after eating/drinking contaminated food depends on your immunity, type of offending agent, amount of exposure and your overall general health.

  • Infants and children: because immune system is yet to develop fully and they tend to eat without following/maintaining proper hygiene rules.
  • Elderly persons: the immune system of elderly individual may not be quick to respond to certain threats and lead to food poisoning when exposed to offending agents.
  • Persons with chronic disease: persons with chronic disease such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, liver disease, cancer etc. have weaker immune system and prone to develop various illnesses including food poisoning.
  • Pregnancy: during pregnancy there is change in metabolism and various other physiological changes, which increases risk of food poisoning and other ailments.

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