Food poisoning can bring your travel plans to a screeching halt. The uncomfortable symptoms can mean spending the rest of your trip indoors instead of exploring and having a good time with family and friends. But how can you prevent it? And, more importantly, how do you recover from it when you're on the road?
What Is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is caused by the consumption of foods that are contaminated with toxins, bacteria, viruses or parasites, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Eating undercooked meat or seafood or produce that hasn't been cleaned can cause food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness. Water that isn't properly purified can also contain harmful waste products and foods that aren't prepared and stored at the proper temperature may also cause food poisoning.
The most common symptoms associated with food poisoning are:
- Diarrhea (watery)
- Cramping or pain in the abdomen
While food poisoning is a condition that most often goes away on its own, in some cases the condition can become more severe. It's advised you seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Inability to keep down foods or liquids for an extended period of time
- Traces of blood in the vomit or diarrhea
- A fever exceeding 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit
- Diarrhea that lasts more than three days
- Sharp pain in the abdomen
- Dehydration (weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, unquenchable thirst, dark urine or lack of urination
- Blurred vision
- Tingling in the arms
- Muscle weakness
How to Recover Quickly from Food Poisoning
If you feel the symptoms of food poisoning come on, begin taking these steps immediately to find relief and help yourself recover:
- Take a probiotic to build up good bacteria in the gut.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water as well as coconut water for extra electrolytes.
- Add more fiber to your diet -- think whole grains and even a fiber supplement for an extra boost.
- Cut out dairy and foods high in fat that can further tax your digestive system.
- Avoid excess salt and sugar that can lead to additional dehydration.
- Eat smaller amounts of food gradually.
- Skip the alcohol.
- No caffeine, which is a natural diuretic.
- Get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activity.
As mentioned above, be sure to seek medical attention if you experience any of the severe symptoms. The doctor may recommend treatment with an antibiotic.
Tips for Eating On the Road
When you travel, part of the fun is trying new foods. However, it's important to ask questions, especially if you're pregnant or have a food allergy. Young children and the elderly are also more susceptible to food poisoning as well. Here are some steps to help you stay well on the road:
- Pack your usual supplements.
- Bring along an probiotic.
- Carry an anti-diarrhea medication.
- Buy bottled water and carry it with you while sightseeing.
- Avoid consuming raw foods unless you can verify they've been prepared properly.
- Pass on foods offered from street vendors.
You can find probiotics, water bottles and digestive aids at eVitamins to help you stay healthy while traveling. Check back tomorrow for more!