How to Tell if You Have Salmonella and What to Do
Salmonellosis, better known as salmonella, is a common bacterial disease that is sure to have come up in at least one conversation during your upbringing. It is a bacteria that typically lives in animal and human intestines and is shed through…. Let’s just say you get rid of this bacteria by going to the bathroom. Few lucky people have no symptoms when they have a salmonella infection, but for the rest of us, the symptoms can make you feel like your body is trying to tear itself apart from the inside out. The worst part, if you get salmonella poisoning is that the symptoms can start 6 hours to 6 days, and in some cases, they don’t experience symptoms weeks after. Same goes for how long the infection lasts. It can last anywhere from 4-7 days to several weeks. Lucky for you, HealthCARE Express has all the answers to the questions you will have if you get salmonella poisoning.
Symptoms of Salmonella
A salmonella infection is typically caused by eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and/or seafood, as well as unpasteurized milk. Victims of salmonella poisoning often mistake it as the stomach flu.
Possible signs and symptoms of salmonella infection include but are not limited to:
- Stomach cramps
- Blood in the stool
Most people will not need to seek medical attention for salmonella poisoning because it clears up on its own. But, if the infected person is an infant, young child, older adult, or someone with a weakened immune system, you should see your primary care doctor or stop by an urgent care if your symptoms last more than a few days, if you have a high fever or bloody stools, or if it appears to be causing dehydration which would include urinating less, darker colored urine, and/or having a dry mouth and tongue.
Causes of Salmonella Poisoning
Like we said earlier, salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of people and animals. Most people are infected by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by feces–YUCK! Common causes of salmonella poisoning include:
Raw meat, poultry and seafood
- As disgusting as it sounds, feces might get onto raw meat and poultry during the butchering process.
Raw or undercooked eggs
- Usually, the egg’s shell acts as a barrier to possible contamination, but sometimes an infected chicken produces eggs contained with salmonella before they are even formed. That’s why the pasteurization process is necessary. It kills harmful bacteria like salmonella.
Unpasteurized dairy products
- Like we just said, the pasteurization process is necessary because it kills harmful bacteria like salmonella… so buy pasteurized milk!
Fruits and vegetables
- Fruits and vegetables are able to be contaminated many different ways. From contaminated water that irrigates the fields they are grown in, to right in your own home where juices from raw meat and poultry come in contact with uncooked foods like salads.
Improperly handled food
- The above contamination is a result of people preparing food with unwashed hands. That’s disgusting to think about, but it’s the truth! Many foods are contaminated by hands that have previously handled diapers, the toilet, or after handling previously contaminated foods.
- Infected surfaces mean countertops, your fingers, and everything in between. If you touch something that is contaminated and then touch something else, then that surface will also be contaminated.
Infected pets and other animals
- Animals, pets, birds, and reptiles may all carry salmonella bacteria on their feathers, skin, or scales. Owning, handling, or simply just petting animals also is considered unsanitary if you don’t wash your hands afterward.
Increased exposure to salmonella
- Salmonella poisoning and other harmful bacteria are more common in poor sanitation countries.
Solutions For Salmonella
The body has many natural defenses against salmonella as well as other harmful bacteria. For example, strong stomach acid can kill many types of harmful bacteria. If you’re looking for something that could possibly help heal you faster, then here at HealthCARE Express, we suggest you drink some water, drink more water, and then drink even more water. The more hydrated you are, the better you will feel, and the quicker the bacteria will be flushed out of your system. If water isn’t your choice of drink, then lucky for you there are drinks with the specific purpose of rehydrating, like Pedialyte. If your doctor concludes that your infection is more severe, then they might prescribe antibiotics. But the number 1 solution is to be sanitary as to lessen your chances of getting salmonella poisoning in the first place.
We understand that sometimes getting salmonella poisoning is inevitable and not your doing whatsoever, but there are a few easy things that you can do to help prevent salmonella exposure.
Wash your hands
- Washing your hands thoroughly with both water AND soap automatically helps prevent the transfer of salmonella bacteria. Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water before and after, especially after using the toilet, changing a diaper, handling raw meat or poultry, cleaning up pet feces, touching pets or other animals in their habitats.
Keep things separate
- To prevent cross-contamination, store raw meats, poultry, and seafood away from other foods in your refrigerator. It is also a smart idea to have two cutting boards–one for fruits and veggies and the other for raw meats. NEVER placed cooked food on a plate that had raw meat on it. Also be sure to cook food thoroughly and refrigerate or freeze it immediately if you’re not going to use all of it.
Avoid eating raw eggs
- You know that scene in Beauty and the Beast where Gaston eats 5 dozen raw eggs? Yeah… he’s probably had salmonella more times than he can count.
Cook foods to the recommended temperature
- Refer to a safe minimum internal temperature chart and measure temperature with a food thermometer before removing food from the heat source.
HealthCARE Express Is Here For You
Here at HealthCARE Express, we have 17 locations of our urgent care clinics that are all equipped with professionally trained staff, medical equipment, and medical professionals with knowledge about a large variety of medical needs. We provide many different services all for a decent price. Check out our website to find a location near you. We look forward to seeing you–hopefully not because of salmonella poisoning.