The Serious Side of Food Poisoning
We’ve all had a case or two of food poisoning. It’s never fun, and many have unpleasant stories of nights spent over the toilet or shivering under the covers.
These stories have a certain essence of amusement after the fact. They are, after all, the stories of the minor battles of life in which dignity is lost but recovery is always assured.
It is that latter point that should be addressed. Yes, food poisoning is usually minor and only requires a short period of unpleasantness before it can become an amusing story, but that is not always the case.
There are plenty of cases in which food poisoning had more serious effects. The most serious risk of food poisoning is dehydration, which can be deadly if serious enough. For those who cannot keep liquids down, it’s important to go to a doctor. An IV may be necessary. There are also potential risks, however.
These risks rise for certain people in the population. Older adults likely have slightly weaker immune systems, and so may risk more serious complications. The same is true for infants and for people with chronic diseases. A final risk is for pregnant women. Food poisoning reactions can be more severe when pregnant, and the unborn child can also be at risk depending on the type of food poisoning.
With so many potential issues, it’s worth reminding everyone how best to avoid food poisoning in the first place. At home, wash your hands carefully and make sure to wash all utensils and food surfaces. Don’t eat raw food and make sure all food is thoroughly cooked. Don’t place uncooked food near already prepared food. Refrigerate foods shortly after finishing your meal. And, especially, always throw out food if there’s any doubt.
When eating out, there’s less that can be done, other than washing hands and sending back food there is any doubt about. However, if you do contact food poisoning, and you are certain of the location where it occurred, be sure to inform the restaurant promptly. If the food poisoning is severe, or if it has happened more than once at that location, it may be worthwhile to notify the FDA.
Finally, if the food poisoning came from prepackaged food, notify the company responsible, and constant a product liability lawyer to make sure steps are taken.
Being proactive in preventing further food poisoning is not just a good deed or a waste of time, as seen from the evidence above, it can save lives.
Food poisoning may most often lead to a day of discomfort with a story at the end, but that is not always the case. It is important not to assume the next bout will be the same as the last, or that others will get over their experience as quickly as you do. We all owe each other this level of vigilance. It is especially important for those, such as the elderly or the unborn, who may not be able to protect themselves adequately.