Food Poisoning Cases On The Rise: Signs & Remedies To Try
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While monsoon is usually associated with common food-related illnesses, overindulgence and eating out during the festive season can also cause health issues like food poisoning. And sometimes, like right now across India, food contamination can also lead to severe food poisoning outbreaks that affect thousands of people exposed to contaminants in unsafely prepared foods. Recently, the nation has been rocked by cases of food poisoning, indicating that the health issue is clearly on the rise.  

In Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, over 100 students complained of severe food poisoning after dinner at a hostel mess. All affected students were sent to the hospital to deal with the severity of the case. Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district, a 14-year-old girl passed away due to food poisoning after eating contaminated shawarma and other foods from a local eatery. 43 more people are currently hospitalised due to the food contamination at this place. Last week, Mumbai’s iconic Bademiya was also shut down due to food contamination risks. 

So, as cases of food poisoning are on the rise across India, it is now imperative for the nation’s collective health to focus on food safety and prevent food poisoning. While government bodies like the FSSAI and municipal corporations are doing their best to ensure food safety and non-contamination, you too can play a part by knowing more about food poisoning and how to handle it. 

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Food Poisoning: Recognising The Signs And Symptoms 

Food poisoning refers to any foodborne illness caused by toxins or contaminants in food. These contaminants can be harmful artificial chemicals or bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli that have tainted the basic ingredients used in cooking or due to unsafe or toxic cooking environments. Usually, food poisoning in India is caused by eating out at places where food safety and hygiene regulations are not being followed. Food spoilage and buying tainted ingredients for food preparation at home, like expired spices, tainted dairy products, old or spoiled vegetables and meat, etc can also cause food poisoning.  

The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of food poisoning. If any of them show up, contact your doctor immediately. 

1. Nausea And Vomiting: The feeling of nausea is the most common sign or symptom of food poisoning. In most cases, the nausea and vomiting are the body’s natural mechanism to purge the system of the contaminants that is causing the food poisoning. So, if you do feel nauseated and vomiting does occur, don’t try to stop it through artificial means. 

2. Diarrhea: Like in the case of vomiting, diarrhea or loose motions are a way for the digestive system and intestinal tracts to forcefully rid the body of harmful contaminants and irritable substances. So, getting loose motions is a sure-shot sign that you have consumed contaminated foods and are suffering from mild to severe food poisoning depending on the frequency of the diarrhea. 

3. Abdominal Pain: Since food poisoning impacts the entire digestive system, it is quite natural that you would get mild to severe cramps in your abdominal area as a symptom. These cramps and stomach aches can be sharp and shooting in nature, or continuous. Often, the harmful gases released by certain contaminated foods can also cause abdominal pain until released. 

4. Fever: Food poisoning usually occurs due to harmful bacteria growing in contaminated food. Once these bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli enter your system, they cause infections and fever is therefore a common sign. If you have high fever, it is best to consult a doctor immediately.  

5. Headache: Some people with food poisoning get mild to severe headaches as a sign of the illness. These headaches may be caused by the acidity or the dehydration caused by food poisoning. Infection-induced headaches are also likely to plague those with food poisoning.  

6. Loss Of Appetite: One of the most common signs of food poisoning is loss of appetite. Since the body is primarily focusing on purging harmful substances and digesting the rest, further intake of food can be a bit difficult. So, it is best to consume more fluids and cure the discomfort when faced with loss of appetite. 

7. Dehydration: Excess of vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite can all combine to cause dehydration as one of the main signs of food poisoning. Signs of dehydration include the feeling of dry mouth, dark urine, low or no urine and wrinkling of the skin in extreme cases. 

Food Poisoning Remedies: What To Eat And Drink 

When you have food poisoning, it is important to consult a doctor and explain all the possible foods that could have led to the situation. This can help identify the core cause of the food poisoning and your doctor will be better able to suggest a course of treatment. On the home front, there are a couple of remedies you can try to ease the signs and symptoms of food poisoning to get relief and speed up your recovery. It is important to note here that these remedies are not replacements for doctors’ recommendations and should only be taken in addition to any medications prescribed by medical professionals. 

1. Stay Hydrated: Since nausea, vomiting and other symptoms of food poisoning can cause severe dehydration, it is recommended that you consume plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. Preferably, drink water and oral rehydration solutions as soon as the first signs of food poisoning show up to prevent any severe electrolyte loss and imbalance.  

2. Try Spiced Water: Water solutions infused with carom seeds or ajwain, cumin seeds or jeera and ginger or adrak have been traditionally used across India to cure the milder symptoms of food poisoning. Not only do carom seeds, cumin seeds and ginger relieve stomach discomfort, but they also refresh the digestive tract thanks to the high antioxidant content in each. 

3. Load Up On Probiotics: Food poisoning destroys the microbiome of the stomach and intestines, doing intense damage to gut health. To restore this gut microbiome and speed up digestive recovery, it is important to consume probiotic and prebiotic foods like yoghurt, curd, buttermilk, chaas and lassi. Adding cumin seeds to a light chaas, for example, is a good way to restore gut health. 

4. Indulge In Some Broths: While the loss of appetite, nausea and vomitting makes the consumption of solids next to impossible, you can make some light broths to regain electrolyte and nutritional balance. A light broth made with chicken and plenty of veggies can be strained and consumed. Don’t forget to add ginger and cumin to the broth to ease discomfort. 

5. The BRAT Diet: The BRAT diet for food poisoning refers to bananas, rice, applesauce and toast—all simple solids that can be easily and quickly digested by the body while providing plenty of nutrition. Eating mashed BRAT foods is a good way to transition from fluids to semi-solids and then solids after a bad bout of food poisoning. 

6. Medicinal Herb Concoctions: Common Indian herbs like holy basil or tulsi, mint or pudina and coriander leaves or dhaniya have been used for centuries to treat stomach ailments like food poisoning. So, you can infuse water or broths with plenty of these herbs to not only get relief from food poisoning symptoms but also feel more refreshed thanks  to the aroma and flavour of these herbs. 

7. Citrus Boost: Whether you get it from some apple cider vinegar or lemon or orange juice, drinking citrus fruit juice and infusion during food poisoning may be beneficial. The vitamin C and sourness of apple cider vinegar and lemons, for example, can help kill of the harmful bacteria in the gut. Because they are refreshing, citrus water or juices can also help relieve symptoms of food poisoning like nausea and vomitting.