A night out to remember – food poisoning

by 01 Apr 2008

A night out to remember food poisoning

We have probably all at some stage been affected by a case of diarrhoea and/or vomiting after a take-away meal or eating out in a restaurant.

Symptoms of food poisoning include watery diarrhoea, sometimes vomiting, headache, dehydration and abdominal cramps. Infective gastroenteritis caught from another person is usually viral in origin and can cause much the same symptoms, but they are usually not as severe. If others who have eaten with you have the same symptoms at the same time (2–24 hours after eating) then food poisoning is likely.

Management of this condition is based on symptom control and minimisation of harmful sequelae such as dehydration. It is best to maintain a good fluid intake of water or pharmacy-bought rehydration solutions, but not to drink lemonade, milk, or caffeine-containing beverages. Abdominal cramps can be treated with a medication called Buscopan, or simply with a hot-water bottle placed over the abdomen. Avoid any food in the early stages, but when you do feel hungry, limit yourself to plain food such as soft white bread (no butter) and crackers.

Prevention of food poisoning is best achieved by eating only fresh food. Whether prepared at home or in a restaurant, uncooked meat should be stored and prepared separately from foods that will be eaten uncooked, such as salads. Foods that need refrigeration should be kept chilled until the time they are eaten. Dips and salads containing mayonnaise/creamy sauces must be kept chilled and should not be consumed if they have been sitting on the table for a while. Hot food must be eaten hot, not lukewarm, as otherwise it may have been stored and not thoroughly reheated.

Following these guidelines will help you to eat well, and enjoy your night out for all the right reasons.

By Dr Jo-Anne Zappia, director of medical services, Peak Health Management. Email info@peakhealth.com.au or visit www.peakhealth.com.au