Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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A Bad Bug Got Me

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I was all set to have an enjoyable vacation away from home this past weekend and I spend the entire weekend on the bed in the hotel room instead. We went out to dinner on Thursday night (restaurant to remain nameless) and within a few hours I was suffering from what I can only conclude was a bad case of food poisoning. What a way to ruin a vacation!

This experience made me look into food poisoning again and I thought I would share a few interesting tidbits.

  • The correct term for food poisoning is actually foodborne illness.
  • There over 250 organisms that can cause foodborne illness (bacteria, parasites, and viruses).
  • It has nothing to do with the flu (influenza virus). In fact, most people who think they have the "24 hour flu" actually have food poisoning.
  • 76 million illnesses in the US are caused by foodborne illness (5,000 deaths).
  • You can get symptoms within hours up to days later. Most people get symptoms within the first 12 hours. The incubation period depends on the bug.
  • The illness usually runs it's course in 24-48 hours, but for some can last weeks.
  • The main symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Salmonella is scary because it can actually enter the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.
  • To properly diagnose a foodborne illness laboratory tests need to be performed. However it is rare that they actually can identify them because the tests required at quite specialized and expensive and not routine.
  • Most people do not seek medical attention so they are not tested and the illnesses go undiagnosed.
  • The main treatment is simply rehydrating with fluids and electrolytes.

Consult your doctor is you have the following:
  • Fever above 101.5 if measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents liquids from staying down (usually more than 24 hours)
  • Signs of dehydration (decreased urination, dry mouth and throat, dizzy)
  • Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
  • When in doubt, go get checked out!
For more information, check out this link from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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