When sitting down to eat, your biggest worry might be getting a touch of heartburn. So you're probably surprised when this simple act leaves you feeling like you've been run over by a truck. If a bout with a foodborne illness has you wondering if you can trust food again, don't despair -- you can avoid most culinary creepies with a little awareness and plenty of soap and water.

This article takes a look at eight stomach infections and infestations you'll want to avoid: botulism, dysentery, food poisoning, listeriosis, salmonella, stomach flu, tapeworms, and trichinosis. Here's a preview of the information you'll find:

  • Preventing BotulismThere are three forms of botulism: foodborne botulism, which is spread through contaminated food; infant botulism, which infects the immature digestive systems of young babies; and wound botulism, which enters the body through a wound in the skin. Botulism is a rare but dangerous infection that can be fatal. Once infected, botulism sufferers are usually treated with botulism antitoxin.
  • Preventing DysenteryDysentery, an inflammation of the intestines, is most commonly spread through poor hygiene and hand-washing habits, especially in children and food workers. Dysentery causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. To avoid this painful infection, follow strict hygiene practices and make sure your children do the same.
  • Preventing Food PoisoningFood poisoning can be caused by more than 100 different foodborne bacteria. Symptoms can include vomiting, headache, diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal cramps, and fever, although the severity of symptoms can vary. Observe food safety guidelines to avoid contaminated foods, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and often when handling raw foods.
  • Preventing ListeriosisListeriosis is spread through contaminated foods, such as undercooked or raw meat, unpasteurized dairy products, and processed foods such as hot dogs. A listeriosis infection is especially dangerous to pregnant women, infants, and the elderly. Practice safe food-handling and food-preparation procedures to avoid listeriosis.
  • Preventing SalmonellaSalmonella bacteria cause salmonellosis, which affects the intestinal tract and causes vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and fever. Severe cases can cause dehydration and require hospitalization. To avoid Salmonella bacteria, follow common-sense food-saftey practices and avoid raw or undercooked foods that could be contaminated.
  • Preventing Stomach FluAlthough the term "stomach flu" is a misnomer (influenza is a respriatory infection and has nothing to do with the stomach), we all know stomach flu as as uncomfortable illness accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. This infection is most often caused by rotavirus and noroviruses. To avoid stomach ailments, practice good hygiene and thoroughly clean your fruits and veggies.
  • Preventing TapewormsTapeworm larva can be found in raw meats, and those larva can then infect human hosts and mature into adult tapeworms. A tapeworm infestation can cause nausea, diahrrea, stomach pain, and general weakness. Keep away from uncooked and undercooked beef and pork to avoid infestation.
  • Preventing TrichinosisUndercooked pork and game meats are common carriers of Trichinella spiralis, the parasitical worms that cause trichinosis. A trichinosis infections can come with serious side effects such as heart and breathing problems, and it could take months to completely recover. It's easy enough to avoid trichinosis by thoroughly cooking meats before you eat them.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.