The Long Term Effects of Food Poisoning
The number of Americans that will experience some type of food poisoning this year is staggering. Statistically, one in six people in the United States, or 48 million individuals, will be exposed to food poisoning in some way. The truth is that most people will make a full recovery without any lasting effects from the illness. However, not everyone is so lucky. For many, food poisoning can be devastating and sometimes even deadly. The following are some serious effects associated with several common types of food poisoning. food safety
- Kidney Failure: HUS, or Hemolytic-uremic syndrome is a life-threatening illness that commonly occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells. Unfortunately, this type of sickness is most often found in children and has been known to affect those who have been infected with some types of E. coli bacteria. This is the most common cause of acute kidney failure among children.
- Chronic Arthritis: A relatively small number of individuals who have been infected with Shigella or Salmonella may develop pain in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. These types of symptoms developed from food poisoning often result in what is called reactive arthritis. Symptoms can last for months or even years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which can be very difficult to treat. Even people with Campylobacter, one of the most common forms of food poisoning in the US, may also develop chronic arthritis.
- Brain and Nerve Damage: Most brain and nerve damage resulting from food poisoning can be attributed to the bacteria known as Listeria. An infection caused by Listeria can lead to meningitis, which is an inflammation of of the membranes surrounding the brain. If a newborn infant were to contract this bacteria, long-term consequences may include mental retardation, seizures, paralysis, blindness, or deafness.
Another common illness resulting from food poisoning is called Guillain-Barre syndrome. This disorder occurs when an individual’s immune system attacks the body’s own nerves. An illness such as this can cause paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires intensive care. What’s really disconcerting is that as many as 40 percent of those affected by Guillain-Barre syndrome can directly trace the illness being triggered by the infection Campylobacter.
- Death: Approximately 3,000 people die in the U.S. each year of food poisoning-related illnesses. Of those deaths, 88 percent can be traced to five types of organisms for which is the cause is known: Salmonella, Toxoplasma, Listeria, norovirus, and Campylobacter.
There are other food poisoning-related conditions that may cause death as well. For example, some Vibrio infections (normally associated with consuming raw shellfish) can infect the bloodstream and cause severe, life-threatening illness. This type of infection is so serious that nearly half of the people that contract it die, and death can occur within two days.
Food poisoning should be taken very seriously. Often times, people do not understand how devastating a foodborne illness can be, and it’s very important that you are aware of what type of foods that you’re eating and what the quality of the product is like. Take note of restaurant ratings the next time you decide to dine out, and be sure that they have an A rating (or a score of 90 or higher). If the restaurant isn’t safe enough for the health inspector, then it shouldn’t be safe enough for you.
We invite you to read more about food safety on our blog, and if you have any questions about an experience you had or want to let us know what you think about our posts, feel free to comment, or contact us.