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Food Poisoning Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ

Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP on October 19, 2018
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Food borne illness otherwise known as "food poisoning"…

Food poisoning is a food-borne illness caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Toxins and chemicals can also cause food poisoning. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain.

Is caused by eating contaminated food or drinks Has many causes (types of food contaminants) Can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea All of the above are true

Food poisoning causes _____ cases of illness each year in the U.S.

An estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year. That means 1 in 6 people in the U.S. becomes ill after eating contaminated food, resulting in about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually.

7 million 16 million 48 million 102 million

What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?

Symptoms of food poisoning often occur soon after a food is eaten, but in some cases the symptoms may not appear for several days or even weeks. Common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea – may be watery or bloody
  • Fever, chills, sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Nausea and vomiting Constipation Joint pain Headache

Norovirus is one of the most common germs that cause food poisoning.

More than 250 known diseases can be transmitted through food. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists the top five germs that cause foodborne illnesses in in the United States as:

  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Campylobacter/
  • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)
Other germs that can cause food poisoning are less common, but can result in more severe illness, including:
  • Clostridium botulinum (botulism)
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Listeria
  • Vibrio

True False

Most cases of food poisoning are caused by…

While parasites, fungi, and toxins or chemicals on food can all cause food poisoning, viruses and bacteria are the most common causes of foodborne illness.

Viruses and bacteria Parasites Fungi Toxins

Foods that are commonly associated with food poisoning include…

Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and seafood are the foods most likely to be contaminated with germs that can cause food poisoning. In addition, raw or undercooked eggs and unpasteurized milk and dairy products can also be culprits. But any food can be contaminated and can cause food poisoning, including fruits and vegetables that may be exposed to germs in the field or during processing.

Fruits and vegetables Raw meats Eggs All of the above

How long do most cases of food poisoning typically last?

Most cases of food poisoning are mild and will go away in a few hours to a few days without medical treatment. If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, you may become dehydrated so drinking fluids is important.

See a doctor if you experience severe symptoms of food poisoning, including:

  • High fever
  • Blood in stools
  • Frequent vomiting and you cannot keep liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration (decreased urination, very dry mouth and throat, or dizziness on standing)
  • Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
1 hour 6-72 hours 8-10 days 4 weeks or more

Possible treatments for food poisoning may include which of the following?

Much of the time, food poisoning goes away on its own and medical treatment is not needed. Fluids are the most important treatment to avoid dehydration.

In more severe cases of food poisoning, or those that don't go away quickly, treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics - only used for bacterial causes of food poisoning
  • Antidiarrheal drugs – do not use if you have a fever or blood in the stool. Should not be used by children unless recommended by a doctor.
  • IV fluids – used to avoid dehydration if diarrhea or vomiting is severe.
Antidiarrheal drugs Antibiotics Fluids All of the above

What foods should I eat if I have food poisoning symptoms?

Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration is the first goal in managing food poisoning symptoms. Once the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea have passed and you are feeling better, eat bland foods such as crackers and toast. The BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) is often recommended.

Avoid foods that may upset your stomach including spicy foods, milk and dairy products, fatty and fried foods, and foods high in sugar. Also avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.

Spicy foods Milk and dairy products Crackers and toast Fried foods

Food poisoning can be prevented by which of the following safety steps?

Proper hygiene and food safety are important steps to prevent food poisoning.

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food and before eating.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and dishes for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Keep food in the refrigerator colder than 40°F (4.4°C) and the freezer below 0°F (-18°C)
  • Cook meat until well done and eggs until the yolk is firm. Hot foods should be cooked to at least 140°F (60°C).

Leaving food in the heat to thaw Storing food at temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit Washing hands thoroughly and frequently Rinsing meat before cooking

Sources: Sources

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