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Each year, food poisoning causes grief for thousands of Canadians. Find out what you can do to limit the damage.
People sometimes mistakenly believe that food poisoning is caused by overeating. In reality, this is completely false. Food poisoning is caused by the ingestion of food or beverages contaminated by microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, parasites, mould, algae) or their toxins. It is true; however, that after a copious or spicy meal accompanied by flowing glasses of alcohol, this may trigger symptoms resembling those of food poisoning.
There are several routes of contamination possible, for example:
Here are some examples of common causes of food poisoning:
Norovirus. This virus is among the most common causes of gastroenteritis.
Travellers' diarrhea is a good example of food poisoning often due to the ingestion of foods or drinks contaminated by various viruses, bacteria or parasites.
Food poisoning contracted in exotic countries can occur during travel, upon returning or in the weeks that follow.
Here are the most common symptoms of food poisoning:
These symptoms are sometimes accompanied, but rarely, by lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or other nervous system-related manifestations.
Symptoms can occur for a few hours, a few days or even for a few weeks after having ingested the contaminated food.
If food poisoning occurs, things often resolve themselves with time. Here are a few measures that can help you recover your health more quickly.
Medical care for food poisoning usually consists of easing symptoms. For example, the following may be used:
Over-the-counter medication should never be taken without first speaking to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or pharmacist, since this can sometimes compromise recovery.
Medical treatments can be prescribed depending on the cause of food poisoning (drugs, intravenous rehydration, etc.). If food poisoning is caused by a bacterial infection, an antibiotic will be prescribed. Furthermore, food poisoning caused by a parasite often requires a medical treatment. In more serious cases, hospitalization may be necessary.
Although food poisoning is usually minor and transient, it is better to see a doctor if:
Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about food poisoning.
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