Food poisoning is a relatively common occurrence and can cause symptoms that vary from mild to potentially life threatening. The different types of food poisoning include contamination by harmful types of bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Some examples of bacterial food poisoning include salmonella, botulism, and E. coli. Viral types of food poisoning include rotavirus, norovirus, and hepatitis. Parasites such as worms or fungi may also lead to food poisoning, especially in areas where clean water is difficult to find.
Bacterial types of food poisoning are the most common and include salmonella, botulism, and E. coli. Salmonella is caused primarily by contaminated meat or poultry and may cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea. Botulism is most often contracted through consumption of contaminated canned goods and may cause visual disturbances, muscle weakness or paralysis, or trouble breathing. E. coli may occur after consuming contaminated meat, dairy products, or produce, leading to symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, or extreme weakness.
Some types of food poisoning are caused by viruses instead of bacteria and include rotavirus, norovirus, and hepatitis. Rotavirus is relatively common among children and tends to cause symptoms such as diarrhea and dehydration. Norovirus is frequently referred to as the stomach flu and leads to stomach cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hepatitis A may be caused by food poisoning, and symptoms may involve yellowing of the skin or eyes, fatigue, and compromised liver function.
Parasites such as worms or fungus can cause some types of food poisoning. Flatulence, mucus in the stool, and weight loss are common symptoms of these types of food poisoning. In some cases, the parasites may be visible when a person has a bowel movement. Parasitic food poisoning is most commonly found in areas of the world where a clean water supply is not available, although it does sometimes occur in more developed areas of the world.
Many of the symptoms of food poisoning are the same, regardless of the underlying cause. A doctor will often need to perform a variety of tests in order to determine the exact types of food poisoning present. In some cases, the infection will clear up on its own without any specific medical treatment. In other cases, prescription medications may be used to help manage the symptoms. If severe dehydration occurs due to excessive vomiting or diarrhea, a brief stay in the hospital may become necessary so that fluids can be introduced directly into the body through a small catheter inserted into a vein.