Like sunburns and mosquito bites, food poisoning — also called foodborne illness — is a prevalent health hazard of summer. Some 48 million Americans get food poisoning annually. It’s also responsible for 3,000 deaths each year.
While food poisoning can occur any time of year, the warm temperatures and increased bacteria growth during summer can make you more susceptible to getting sick.
The medical professionals at Medinet Family Care Clinic in Houston, TX, want to ensure food poisoning doesn’t spoil your summer fun. Here they unpack everything you need to know about this unwanted ailment.
Who is at greatest risk for food poisoning?
Anyone can get food poisoning, but those most at risk are:
- Adults age 65 and older
- Children younger than age five
- People with weakened immune systems
- Pregnant women
How to prevent food poisoning
Whether you’re packing a picnic for the pool or park, make sure to keep your food fresh with these important safeguards:
Keep food at the right temperature
One of the biggest culprits for food poisoning is food that has been left out for too long. When you're outdoors, it's important to keep your food at the right temperature to prevent bacterial growth. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, and don't leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
Properly store and transport food
When bringing food to a picnic or the pool, make sure to pack it in an insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs to keep it at the right temperature. Use separate coolers for drinks and food to prevent cross-contamination.
Cross-contamination can happen when you use the same cutting board or utensils for raw meat and other foods. To avoid this, always wash your hands, cutting boards, and utensils thoroughly after handling raw meat. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and other foods, and never put cooked food on a plate with raw meat.
How to determine if you have food poisoning
If you get sick, it can be hard to tell whether it's food poisoning or something else. Common symptoms of food poisoning include:
- Stomach cramps
These symptoms usually develop within a few hours to a few days after eating contaminated food. If you're experiencing these symptoms, it's best to see a doctor to determine the cause.
How to treat food poisoning
Most cases of food poisoning resolve on their own within a few days. The best thing you can do is stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Stick to water and electrolyte-rich drinks like coconut water or sports drinks. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate you further. You can also try eating small, frequent meals of bland, easy-to-digest foods like rice, crackers, and bananas.
For more questions about food poisoning and all of your primary and urgent care needs, contact Medinet Family Care Clinic today. Call the Houston, Texas office, or use this site to schedule an appointment.