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How to Prevent Stomach Infections

Preventing Food Poisoning
©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Food poisoning usually results from food that is stored at the incorrect temperature.

There are as many as 100 different bacteria that can turn your meal into your stomach's worst nightmare. Some of the most harmful, and most common, foodborne bacteria that cause food poisoning are Staphylococcus aureus (Staph), Campylobacter jejuni, and Clostridium perfringens.

All these bacteria do their damage in your body when you eat food that has been contaminated or handled improperly. Campylobacter infection (campylobacteriosis) is a direct bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and is often spread through undercooked chicken. Bacteria-produced toxins cause both Staph and Clostridium food poisonings. Staph toxin most often causes vomiting, and Clostridium toxin most often causes diarrhea.

Food Poisoning Information

Food poisoning symptoms can range from mild to severe, but they typically include vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, abdominal cramps, and fever. Dehydration is one of the most common complications. The toxin-induced illnesses begin within six to 24 hours of exposure, do not cause much fever, and usually resolve within one to two days. Illnesses related to direct bacterial causes, such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, begin two to four days after exposure, usually cause fever, and might last as long as a week.

Who's at Risk for Food Poisoning?

Anyone can get food poisoning, but infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with impaired immune systems are especially vulnerable to more severe cases.

Defensive Measures Against Food Poisoning

The best rule of thumb is to store your food at the proper temperature and completely cook it because bacteria thrive at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Habitually washing your hands, surfaces, and utensils when they come in contact with raw food and following safe food-handling guidelines at all times should keep you safe. Keeping picnic foods such as egg salad cold will go a long way toward keeping you out of the bathroom.

The bacteria that cause listeriosis most commonly infect meat, unpasteurized dairy products, and processed foods. To learn how to avoid this potentially dangerous infection, go to the next page.

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.