Complications of food poisoning

The majority of food poisoning cases resolve themselves without any further problems, but, there are exceptions to this. Unfortunately, there are situations in which complications develop although these tend to be rare.

Complications occur in people who are considered ‘vulnerable’and include:

  • Babies and children
  • The elderly
  • Anyone suffering from a long term condition such as diabetes
  • Anyone who has undergone a transplant and is taking an immunosuppressant drug.
  • People who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS
  • People who are undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.
  • Pregnant women
  • Anyone who is taking long term medication such as steroids, antihistamines or antibiotics.
  • People who travel frequently, especially to developing countries.

Basically, anyone who is normally healthy is less likely to develop complications although there are two exceptions to this: mushroom poisoning (due to toxins) and botulism.

So, what are the complications of food poisoning?

These include:

Each of these is discussed individually within this section.

Dehydration is another complication and one that is particularly dangerous for children. Why? Children have smaller bodies than adults and as a result of that contain smaller amounts of liquid. If they experience large amounts of fluid loss as a result of food poisoning then the effects of this are likely to be more noticeable than those for an adult.

Another side effect and one that you may not be aware of is this: if you are currently taking any medication, for example drugs for epilepsy or diabetes then the effectiveness of these will be reduced as a result of food poisoning.

Vomiting and/or diarrhoea will reduce the absorption of these into your body which means that they are less likely to work as per normal.

This also applies if you are taking any oral contraceptives.

So, if you are taking medication for any of these conditions or oral contraceptives then ask your GP for advice if you develop food poisoning whilst taking these drugs.

There are also complications caused by the actual infection. Certain types of food poisoning such as listeriaand clostridium botulinum can be severe in vulnerable people, and in some cases, even life threatening.

To reiterate: most cases of food poisoning disappear after a few days and without any long term effects but there are cases where problems do arise which require urgent treatment.

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Food Poisoning Guide

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