Salmonella is a usual cause for food poisoning. This is considered as a momentary condition with diarrhea and stomach cramps that lasts for 4-7 days. In some individuals, the diarrhea can be severe or last longer. Generally, children are more likely to acquire salmonella than adults.
Do I have salmonella?
Salmonella is a form of bacteria that thrives in the digestive tract of humans and animals. The bacteria can pass out of the intestines via feces. An individual can become infected by:
- Eating food prepared on surfaces contaminated with raw meat
- Eating poorly cooked foods that might be contaminated with animal feces
- Eating foods that might be contaminated by human feces
- Handling or petting snakes, turtles, lizards, baby birds and chicks. (These animals are likely to carry salmonella and an individual can become infected if not able to wash hands after handling these animals.
Other risk factors
Any factor that changes the digestive tract to make it easier for the bacteria to survive increases the risk for developing the infection such as the following:
- Use of antacids – this medication reduces the acidity level of the stomach which allows better survival for the bacteria
- Recent or prolonged use of antibiotics – antibiotics usually eliminate the “good” bacteria in the stomach and intestines which makes it hard to fight off an infection
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease – these conditions causes damage to the lining of the intestines
- Fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps that develop 12-72 hours after infection
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite loss
The symptoms of salmonella are quite vague and can be triggered by various conditions. The only way to determine that diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps are caused by salmonella is by analysis of a stool sample.
In some cases, the doctor might require additional laboratory tests to identify the type of salmonella so that the right antibiotic can be given.
How to deal with salmonella
Many individuals with the infection can recover within 4-7 days and do not require medical treatment. During the course of the illness, the individual is encouraged to drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost by diarrhea.
An individual with severe diarrhea or has been sick for more than a week require hospitalization. At the hospital, he/she is given intravenous fluids. Infants, elderly and those who have weakened immune system are given antibiotics and those who have high fever, severe diarrhea and bacteria in the bloodstream.
When to consult a doctor
- Condition lasts longer than a few days
- Blood-streaked or severe diarrhea
- Fever up to 101.5 degrees F or higher that lasts longer than a day
- Individual is at risk for severe salmonella