You just enjoyed what tasted like a delicious meal, and now, satisfied, you kick back to relax as your body begins to digest the food. Suddenly-perhaps minutes or hours later- you begin to feel strange.
You may feel the urgent need to use the bathroom, or maybe you find yourself becoming hot and sweaty. The sensation becomes more intense until, finally, it is unbearable. You find yourself incredibly ill, but you aren’t sure what happened!
You consider the culprits; was it something you ate? How can you be sure that you actually suffered from food poisoning? Check out the signs below so that you know how best to treat yourself.
What Is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning occurs when the food you have eaten contains bacteria or parasites. Toxins from these microorganisms then contaminate your meal, causing illness.
There are a few reasons that cause your food to be contaminated. These can include improper food storage, undercooked food (especially beef, pork, and poultry), extreme and sudden temperature changes to food and expired food items.
Depending on the type of bacteria or parasite that has infected your food, food poisoning can occur as early as an hour after eating or as late as 8-10 hours afterward. Also, food poisoning can vary in its degrees of severity.
What Are the Signs of Food Poisoning?
Symptoms of food poisoning are hard to ignore, but they can also mimic the signs of other illnesses (such as the stomach flu). However, food poisoning hits your gut hard and affects your bowel movements as well.
Common signs that you have eaten tainted food are stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, sometimes all at once! As the symptoms progress, dehydration can set in because you are losing fluids and electrolytes.
In addition to the four leading indicators, dehydration can result in physical weakness and sore muscles. Also, bloating and flatulence may also result from the toxins in your gut.
Can Food Poisoning Be Fatal?
While rare, the short answer is yes. Once extreme dehydration sets in, you can be in trouble. Also, signs such as a fever over 102 F, dizziness, severe stomach pain, or the inability to keep any food down for a period of time could signal a more serious issue. In particular, salmonella, E. coli, and botulism infections can be deadly.