What you need to know about salmonella and its symptoms

Salmonella are a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Food poisoning happens when there is an infection of the gut (intestines) caused by microbes, such as bacteria, viruses and parasite. This infection usually leads to diarrhea and/or vomiting.

Salmonella food poisoning occurs when you eat raw or undercooked foods, including meats and eggs, dairy products like raw milk (unpasteurized) or even fruits and vegetables. In most cases, symptoms of salmonella infection are mild, but sometimes salmonella symptoms can be severe.

Salmonella symptoms

Anyone can get salmonella infection, but young children, the elderly and people who have their immune systems not working properly (such as people with AIDS, cancer or alcoholism) have a greater risk of becoming critically ill.

Typical symptoms of salamonella are stomach cramps and diarrhea. The diarrhea can sometimes be bloody and you may also have nausea (feel sick) and vomit (be sick). Some people can also develop a fever (high temperature.)

Salmonella symptoms tend to develop within 12-72 hours of eating contaminated food or coming into contact with an infected animal. The symptoms are usually mild and tend to improve within 4-7 days without any specific treatment. However, sometimes the symptoms are severe and/or complications can occur.

Salmonella complications

If salmonella symptoms are severe, dehydration (a lack of fluid in the body) can occur. Consult a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you or your child are becoming dehydrated.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration in children include:

  • A dry mouth, tongue and lips
  • Fewer tears when crying
  • Passing little urine
  • Sunken eyes
  • Weakness
  • Lacking in energy (lethargic), and
  • Being irritable.

Signs and symptoms of severe dehydration in children include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Pale or mottled skin
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Very few wet nappies
  • Fast (but often shallow) breathing. This is a medical emergency and immediate medical attention is needed.

Even in adults, severe dehydration is a medical emergency. It can be fatal unless quickly treated.

Salmonella treatment

Diarrhea and/or vomiting can lead to dehydration. It is vital, therefore, that you drink plenty of fluids. Your body loses important minerals and sugars when you vomit and/or diarrhea that need to be replaced.

If you or your child have severe salmonella infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Complete the course as prescribed by your doctor to ensure the treatment works.

If you or your child have a mild case of salmonella and symptoms, your doctor may recommend a rehydration solution that you can buy from your nearest pharmacist. Similarly, complete the dosage as prescribed by your pharmacist to ensure the treatment works.

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