When Was The Last Time You Were Poisoned?
Gregory V. Boulware, Esq.
Is It A Stomach Bug Or Food Poisoning?
Tips For Identification
When was the last time that you’ve washed your hands properly? What about the person next to you at the sink in the restroom – did she/he wash their hands properly? Did they wash their hands at all? How about the guys and gals who are serving your food at the counter or the person who prepares your order? Did they wash their hands?
“You’ve probably heard people talking about the stomach bug or stomach flu going around at work or your child’s school. But what exactly is it? The technical term for this sickness is viral gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
Food poisoning is different. It’s more common than the stomach bug. About 1 in 6 Americans, or roughly 48 million people, experience food poisoning each year.
Stomach Bug Vs. Stomach Flu:
Symptoms of a stomach bug
If you have the stomach bug, or viral gastroenteritis, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:
Stomach bug and stomach flu are both terms for viral gastroenteritis.
People typically develop stomach bug symptoms within 24 to 48 hours of being exposed to the virus.
Symptoms of food poisoning:
Typical symptoms of food poisoning include
diarrhea or constipation
In severe cases, you can have:
bloody stool or vomit
severe abdominal cramping
a loss of consciousness
The symptoms of food poisoning usually appear two to six hours after initial exposure. Symptoms typically don’t last longer than two days. Food poisoning can occur in anyone, but it is most common in babies, young children, and the elderly.
Symptoms of dehydration
After several days with either the stomach bug or food poisoning, you may develop dehydration. Watch for the following signs and symptoms of dehydration:
a decrease in urine output
dryness in your mouth or throat
dizziness when standing
a lack of tears in babies and toddlers
low blood pressure
a lack of tears
dizziness, especially with standing
Babies may have sunken eyes and fontanels. The fontanel is also known as the soft spot. You should seek medical attention if any of these symptoms occur.”
My experiences with “Food-Poisoning” began a while back when I consumed so-called healthy peanuts, cashews, and a bunch of assorted nuts purchased from the grocery store. Now, many of us simply enjoy these types of healthy snacks and use them in abundance.
But when you come down with a sudden attack of vomiting and/or diarrhea, you often wonder if you’ve caught a stomach bug or if you just ate something bad.
“The viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause gastroenteritis are often food borne, so most of the time you did eat something bad. In all cases you ate the germ. They are considered to be types of food poisoning. They are contagious, so food poisoning from them is contagious. Spinach contaminated with e.coli, berries contaminated with norovirus, and cantaloupe, sprouts, and peanuts contaminated with salmonella are examples of contagious food poisoning. You can also catch these illnesses directly from other people and it usually takes at least 24 hours after ingestion to get sick. (Norovirus can occasionally strike as early as 12 hours after exposure.) However, if you have gotten sick (started vomiting) within 8 hours of eating a questionable food item, then you may have regular non-contagious food poisoning. Non-contagious food poisoning occurs when you eat some food that has been improperly stored (or sat out too long) and bacteria have grown on it. The bacteria produce toxins that make you sick (even if you reheat the food the toxins will still be there).”
Grocery shopping at the neighborhood supermarket like ‘Shop-Rite,’ ‘Acme,’ ‘Save-A-Lot,’ or ‘Fresh Grocer’ will temp you into buying more than you’ve planned.
The prospect of “Food-Poisoning” is an often overlooked occurrence in the conversations of many. The topic usually comes up if and or when one is personally affected by this common disease.
How many times do you think the average citizen purchases a “Fast-Food” product in her or his daily routine at work, play, or some other away from home activity?
Often times, we in our daily activities run into fast food establishments to pacify our lusty cravings for a Burger, a slice of Pizza, a Cheesesteak, Hoagie, or that fresh piece of Southern-Fried Chicken or Fish; and of course the all-mighty “French Fry!” Maybe you’ll top it off with a ‘Diet Soda,’ a ‘Salad,’ or a “Milk-Shake” or two from the nearby “Micky D’s” or “Burger King?” Not to mention the neighborhood corner store who happens to make a sandwich or two on the side.
Now that we’ve touched upon the quickie-snack-fix, what about the sit-down at the table or booth enticement? Oh yes, the food-bug also punches people in the belly in these so-called safe eatery environments too. Have you ever been to an ‘i-Hop,’ ‘Applebee’s,’ ‘Olive-Garden,’ ‘Red-Lobster,’ ‘Chi-Chi’s,’ or ‘Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.),’ ‘Mexican,’ ‘Jamaican,’ ‘African,’ and/or ‘Middle-Eastern’ cuisine? I’m sure that you have. These fine places are some of our favorite places of pleasingly opulent consumption.
Have you ever been sickened at or by one or some of the delicacies of these types of places? What about that “rumbly-in-the-tumbly” sensation that maybe caused a bit of dizziness or that over-powering urge to make a mad dash to the nearest ‘john’ (toilet those of you who are not familiar with john)?
What did you do, think, or feel when everything inside you suddenly, unavoidably, and violently forced its way up and out of you…the top and/or bottom? If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll have missed the fever, aches, and chills that commonly accompany this sort of ailment. This often food-borne suffering can be deadly to those who are aged, sickly (immune deficiencies, etc.), and very young. Many people of this group simply do not have the physical capacity to fight off sudden ailments like ‘food-poisoning.’ Many elderly folk are commonly consumers of prescription medications that act in the nature of suppressants to these individuals. Sea-Food allergies pose the number one threat to people of this group.
Some years ago, I suffered an attack of such magnitude after consuming a couple of burgers from a Germantown burger joint. I’m sure that this food intake was the culprit of my ailment because I’d eaten nothing but that particular meal throughout that entire day. As soon as I’d arrived home, I began to feel woozy and shaky. Later that night, fever set in. I was fine. I did feel fine up to and not long after eating those burgers. It was approximately four, maybe five hours after consuming the food is when I realized what I’d done or what it was that made me feel sick.
This series of events put me down for two and a half days. Sure, I should have notified the restaurant of this misadventure with their cooked product. But I felt it would have been a lost cause because they wouldn’t believe me anyway. I was convinced that I would be beating a dead horse with explanations from the manager as to why their food was safe and bacteria free even though the entire staff is younger than my Grandchildren.
On a recent occasion, I believed that I was sickened by eating a cheese burger product from a well-known fast-food establishment boasting of arches. Again, the sandwich was the only food that I’d consumed within the entire day. It was a filling sandwich that held my hunger in check for the entire evening and night. Early the next morning however, was an entirely different experience.
When the tide of illness had departed me on the next day, I was hell-bent on revenge to the fullest! “I’m going to make them pay for this!” I vowed. Oh yes, I planned to confront the manager and threaten action if I was not brought to satisfaction.
…But then upon speaking with one of my sons via the telephone, he disclosed the fact that my grandson experienced the identical symptoms that I displayed a few days before. And then I remembered all of the others in my immediate family who have also displayed symptoms of the same or of some similarity…
This recollection delayed my visit to the fast-food establishment. Now I was not sure of whom
it was that was the guilty party in my unfortunate encounter.
I still think it is a very good idea to make contact with the restaurant or fast-food business where you made a purchase should you, someone you know, or a loved-one becomes ill after consuming a product. After all, all it takes is just one employee to not follow the safety rules and guidelines to make someone who is being served ill. How many times have you witnessed someone who is preparing fast-food not washing his or her hands – what about the utensils that they are preparing food with? Is all of the tools, i.e., knives, spatulas, etc., being cross-contaminated on the serving or cutting boards?
We as citizens come into contact with thousands upon thousands of other individuals on any given day. We have a personal responsibility to ourselves, loved ones, and the general public at large to be aware of what you can do to prevent contamination while practicing safe hand-washing and the prevention of potential disease spreading dangers.
With this last ‘quick-food fiasco,’ I do think my road will slow in the consumption of fast food. Albeit, I can truthfully say that I will probably eat out again (not in the near future though) as the aforementioned places do offer that “get-out-of-the-kitchen” break and/or the let’s grab a bite mentality after a night out, a show, or late meeting availability. The fast food industry has its place and I dare say will not be going anywhere any time soon or in the near future.
We simply have to be aware of our ability to make sure that we are and remain safe when eating out and at home.
Treating A Stomach Bug
“Dehydration is a serious concern for people who have the stomach virus. Watch for the symptoms of dehydration. You should seek medical attention if any of these symptoms occur.
Make sure you get plenty of fluids. Adults should drink fluids with electrolytes such as Gatorade for adults, and children should get fluid replacement solutions. These drinks coupled with water will help restore the body’s hydration balance. For best results, drink about 2 to 4 ounces every half hour to an hour. Don’t drink fruit juice or sodas. These liquids don’t replace lost electrolytes.
If you have a mild case of food poisoning, it may respond well to rest and fever-reducing medications. If you have a severe case, your doctor may give you steroids to help with heart and muscle issues.
Food Poisoning Vs. Stomach Flu
If you are trying to determine if you have contagious gastroenteritis (a stomach bug) or just ate some bad food, you must think back about what you’ve done in the past few days. If you have been around someone in the past 2 weeks who was sick with a vomiting and/or diarrhea illness, then you most likely have what they had (a contagious stomach bug). If you haven’t been around anyone who has been sick (that you know of), but you ate a yogurt that looked funny, a turkey sandwich that was left on the counter all afternoon, restaurant food (rice, salad, dipping sauce, etc. etc.), then you might have non-contagious food poisoning. If you got sick within 7 hours of eating the suspected food, and felt fine shortly thereafter, you probably have regular food poisoning and are not contagious. If it has been 24 hours or more since you ate the suspected food item than you probably have something contagious. It is usually very difficult to be sure which illness you have. So, if you are not sure, err on the side of caution and assume you are contagious. No matter what you think you have, be sure to call your doctor if you think you are seriously ill.”
Til Next Time…
Is It A Stomach Bug Or Food Poisoning?
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