‘Tis the season for tummy trauma. Holiday grazers, pay special attention to this article. Your habit of digging into tepid sausage dip left out during that marathon Christmas party can cause major issues. Enjoy yourself without ingesting a hearty dose of salmonella, parasite or virus. Here’s a survival guide to avoid food poisoning during this time of year and beyond – and what to do if you’re infected.
Step One: Thou shall adhere to the rules of food safety – namely, the two-hour rule. This is not to be confused with the five-second rule, which dictates that any food dropped on the ground is safe to eat if consumed before five seconds. (This rule is false, by the way). If food has sat out for more than two hours, throw it away. That’s right, toss even the delectable prime rib that fits so snugly into those leftover potato rolls. It’s not worth the risk. After refrigerating your favorites, eat them within three or four days, and make sure to reheat. Ignore the steps inherent in Step One to your peril; doing so may result in Step Two.
Step Two: Even when you say ‘no’ to that late-hour shrimp cocktail appetizer, food poisoning can still strike. Know the symptoms that can arise within hours or sneak up within days. Either way, this is not usually something you can ‘power through.’ How you feel will vary based on the severity and type of the poisoning, but one thing is for certain: You are going to feel lousy – and you likely will need to stay near a bathroom. This is where your medical plan savvy comes in handy. Consider telemedicine – that way, you won’t need to leave your home. If that is not an option, the primary care provider or convenient care clinic are likely your best bet. Only go to the ER if it is absolutely necessary.
Step Three: If you believe the offending food is still in your possession, throw it away before a household member can unwittingly infect themselves as well. Think your illness is due to a restaurant item? Call the restaurant. Most do not want to give their patrons a side of illness with their meal. Next, rest up. Don’t force yourself to do more than your energy level provides. The effects of food poisoning can linger, depending on the severity. Hopefully yours will prove short and mild.
Foodborne illness is a real threat to holiday hoopla. It causes approximately 3,000 deaths yearly in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Over a hundred thousand are sickened; some are hospitalized. Many others suffer in silence at home until the symptoms subside. If you experience fatigue, nausea, cramps, or diarrhea, there’s a possibility that you’ve fallen victim to food poisoning. May your bout be short and your health return as soon as possible!