Health Topics

Healthy Living

December 2011
Stomach Infections in Adults
Dr. Suneeta Narreddy
All of us eat out some time or the other. Social functions, parties, restaurants, or fast food joints. Sometimes you fall ill after eating at such places, sometimes you don’t. But when you do fall ill, pause and think. It’s not only children who are at the risk of contracting stomach infections. Being an adult does not afford too much of protection either!

Food poisoning occurs from eating
  • Undercooked food
  • Food prepared in unclean utensils
  • Dairy products or foods that have not been refrigerated properly, or kept out of the refrigerator for long
  • Frozen or refrigerated foods that have not been reheated properly
  • Raw fruits or vegetables that have not been washed well
  • It can also occur after drinking untreated water
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea with blood in stool
  • Headache, fever with weakness
Bacteria may enter your food through
  • Spoilt meat or poultry
  • Water contaminated by animal or human waste
  • Improper food handling or preparation
Food poisoning is usually self-limiting, and recovery occurs in a couple of days.
  • Avoid solid foods until the diarrhea has passed.
  • Drink lots of fluids (except milk or caffeinated beverages).
  • Give children an electrolyte solution.
  • If you have diarrhea and are unable to drink fluids, then fluids are given through a vein.
  • Dehydration is the most common.
  • Less common but serious complications include arthritis, bleeding problems, kidney problems and respiratory problems.
  • Wash hands before cooking or cleaning.
  • Clean dishes and utensils that have had any contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs.
  • Do not use the same dish for raw and cooked meat.
  • Do not store uncooked meat, poultry, or fish in the refrigerator for more than two days.
  • Discard outdated foods, packaged food with broken seals, or food with unusual odour or taste.
  • Wash hands after changing diapers; dispose off diapers carefully.
  • Do not feed honey to children less than one year of age.
  • Do not eat wild mushrooms.
  • If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, avoid soft cheeses.
Clostridium botulinum (bacteria causing botulism) is found in soil and untreated water. Food contaminated by the preformed toxin causes a severe form of disease that can result in respiratory failure and death. Botulism may also occur if the organism enters open wounds and produces toxins there. 

Symptoms occur within hours to a day after consuming the contaminated food, and can include:
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Breathing difficulty leading to respiratory failure
  • Difficulty swallowing and speaking
  • Double vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Paralysis
Treatment involves
  • Administration of antitoxin
  • Injection of intravenous fluids (supportive treatment)
  • Ventilator support (occasionally)

Dr. Suneeta Narreddy is a Infectious Diseases Consultant Apollo Hospitals Hyderabad