How Risky Is Salmonella To Your Wellbeing?

Salmonella is a form of bacteria which can lead to food poisoning. Generally, food poisoning causes gastroenteritis which is an infection in the intestine which can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. There are certain foods which are more prone to harbouring salmonella, usually in the gut of animals, such as poultry meat, eggs, milk and other dairy products. The infection usually causes mild symptoms, but these have side effects which can lead to complications in the body. For example, you will have a lack of fluid, which can be damaging for your health – the best way to combat this is to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Antibiotics are usually prescribed as well, in order to fight the infection. The Food Standards Agency in the UK has listed the 4 Cs to help people avoid food poisoning, which includes that caused by salmonella. This includes general hygiene in the kitchen to ensure work surfaces are kept clean and chopping boards which have been used for raw products are washed thoroughly, as well as making sure you use fresh foods which are in date and stored correctly.

Salmonella is caused by food becoming contaminated by germs or microbes, poisons or toxins, or chemicals. Microbes include viruses, bacteria and parasites – these are living things which live within or on another organism. There are over 2,500 different forms of salmonella, one of which can cause typhoid fever. This serious disease can actually prove to be fatal if it isn’t treated quickly, characterised by stomach cramps, headache, high temperature and a skin rash – patients with this illness will also feel nauseous and have a loss of appetite. Another form of the bacterial infection is the beginnings of paratyphoid fever – this is a similar illness but shows milder symptoms. Salmonella is spread by poorly cooked foods which are breeding grounds for the bacteria, where cooking has failed to kill the bacteria. People commonly associate it with raw or under-cooked eggs, but it can also be spread by poultry meat and milk. If other foods have touched the bacteria, they too will become infected.

The symptoms of salmonella include diarrhoea and stomach cramps, and you may feel nauseous. Some people also have a high temperature – the symptoms tend to come on within 12 to 72 hours of eating the infected foods. The time before this stage is known as the incubation period. Most people find that their symptoms improve within four to seven days of becoming ill, with no real treatment besides resting and drinking plenty of fluids. If you suspect that you or your child is becoming dehydrated, you should seek medical advice from your GP or a medical professional as soon as possible – it’s easily prevented from ensuring you drink plenty of water. You’ll be able to spot the signs from being thirsty more than usual, darker urine and passing less urine when you go to the toilet, and from weakness. You may also have a dry mouth and feel lethargic. In some circumstances, you may need to seek medical advice in order to confirm if you have food poisoning. Your GP or nurse may ask you questions about whether you’ve taken any recent trips or foods you’ve eaten which may have triggered the infection. They will also check your dehydration levels, your temperature, pulse and blood pressure. Some also check the abdomen for any tenderness. In some cases it may be necessary to provide a stool (faeces) sample for testing, to see if any bacteria is present. Salmonella is generally diagnosed from such a sample which is sent to a laboratory for testing – food is also tested in times of outbreaks.

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