An estimated 600 million cases of food-borne diseases occur annually worldwide. This translates into 1 in 10 people falling ill after eating contaminated food. Food-borne illnesses or food poisoning can be severely debilitating; hence, access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food is therefore key to sustaining life and promoting good health.

Food poisoning usually occurs after eating food contaminated with bacteria or their toxins. Virus and parasites can also cause food poisoning.

Food poisoning due to preformed toxins vs live organisms: Food poisoning due to preformed toxins presents within 6 hours and the predominant symptom is vomiting, whereas food poisoning due to live organisms presents after 6 hours and the predominant symptom is diarrhea.

Symptoms of food poisoning include abdominal pain, nausea, headache, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms may appear several hours to several days after eating tainted food. Severe dehydration may result due to vomiting and diarrhea.

Children, the elderly, immunocompromised people, pregnant women are particularly at risk of developing food poisoning.

Tips to cope with food poisoning

  • Let your stomach settle. Stop eating and drinking for a few hours.
  • Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. If your urine is clear and not dark, this means the body is hydrated enough.
  • Ease back into eating. Gradually begin to eat bland, low-fat, easy-to-digest foods, such as crackers, toast, bananas and rice. Stop eating if your nausea returns.
  • Avoid certain foods and substances until you’re feeling better. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
  • Take adequate rest. The illness and dehydration can weaken and tire you.