What are Some Symptoms of Salmonella?

Michael Pollick

Many people experience mild symptoms of Salmonella poisoning and may not even make the connection between a feces-borne bacteria and their gastric distress. For the elderly, young and those with weakened immune systems, the symptoms of Salmonella can be more pronounced and more persistent. Some victims of food poisoning triggered by Salmonella recover within 48 hours, while others may continue to experience symptoms of salmonella infection for weeks or months.

A pronounced fever is a possible symptom of salmonella.
A pronounced fever is a possible symptom of salmonella.

One of the major symptoms of salmonella is gastroenteritis, or a general upset stomach. Sufferers may start to feel bloated and nauseated within 24 hours of ingesting raw or undercooked foods or infected fecal matter. Over-the-counter medications for upset stomachs may offer temporary relief, but the pain and bloat generally returns and even intensifies. A persistent stomach ache accompanied by a painful gaseous feeling in the intestines could be the first symptoms of salmonella food poisoning.

Persistent stomach pains and gas are major symptoms of salmonella poisoning.
Persistent stomach pains and gas are major symptoms of salmonella poisoning.

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This general gastric distress is often followed by severe bouts of diarrhea which cannot be easily controlled through medication. This diarrhea can be particularly long-lasting and accompanied by painful cramps and spasms in the intestines. Because of the amount of fluids being drawn out of the body, dehydration can also be one of the symptoms of salmonella food poisoning. The continual intake of clear fluids can be vital when dealing with severe cases of food poisoning, especially if the victim is elderly, young or immunity-challenged.

A Salmonella bacterium.
A Salmonella bacterium.

Because salmonella is a bacterial infection, a victim's body may also develop a pronounced fever while the bacteria remains in the intestinal tract. In rare cases, any salmonella bacteria which survive the initial food poisoning phase can enter the bloodstream and infect other organs. A condition known as Reiter's syndrome can develop over several weeks if the victim continues to be infected. Symptoms include extremely high fever and substantial pain in the victim's joints.

Food poisoning can be contracted from eating raw beef.
Food poisoning can be contracted from eating raw beef.

Technically speaking, Salmonella is the scientific name for the bacteria strain itself, not the disease triggered in humans who ingest it. Food poisoning victims who consume infected raw foods such as chicken, beef or eggs or undercooked foods held out of temperature actually experience a condition known as salmonellosis. Salmonellosis can be prevented by thoroughly cooking raw meat to a proper temperature, washing eggs and fruits in clean water, washing one's hands before handling food, and avoiding cross-contamination between raw food juices and foods ready to be served.

Salmonella is associated with raw chicken.
Salmonella is associated with raw chicken.

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Discussion Comments

anon926590

I have salmonella. I have not been to the doctor yet.

GiraffeEars

@babalaas- The most common treatments for salmonella typhimurium is to administer fluids and electrolytes. Salmonella is a bacteria that often causes heavy diarrhea and vomiting, leading to severe dehydration. The best home remedy is to drink small sips of room temperature water and unflavored pedialyte.

If you take any other medications, you will likely prolong the illness. Often it is not worth it to take OTCs unless you absolutely cannot handle the cramping. In this case, you should take something like loperamide.

If the case is really severe, i.e. bacteria in the blood or extreme dehydration, you may need to be hospitalized. The doctor will likely administer an IV drip and an antibacterial to rehydrate the patient and kill the bacteria.

Babalaas

@Comparables- What you went through sounds like the worst three days ever. What kind of salmonella treatments did the doctor prescribe for you? I have heard that it can make people extremely sick, sometimes causing death.

Comparables

I had my first run in with salmonella by eating tainted eggs. It was the worst sickness I have ever experienced. I spent nearly three days in the bathroom...it was horrible.

The food poisoning symptoms came on very rapidly, and just became worse, to the point that I actually had to go to the hospital. After about a day of sickness, I decided to take pink bismuth and this just seemed to make the symptoms worse. I felt like I lost at least ten pounds of fluids, unable to keep anything down, not even water.

The most disturbing part of the ordeal was that the recall for the eggs did not happen until four weeks after I was sick. It was very frustrating to know that the FDA dragged their feet for so long before finally making the recall. It was one of the largest egg recalls in history, but I would be surprised if there were still any eggs left to be recalled.

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