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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.