In the spirit of “The Total Self”, this article is all about health. The following stats and figures are from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA), Plus I throw in some pointers on how to avoid the flu this year.
NOTE: This article is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult with your primary care provider for any and all medical or health issues.
This flu season has been one of the more brutal ones in recent memory. Maybe you got the flu shot and it didn’t affect you. You may have been among the many who swear against the flu shot and you didn’t get sick. In any case, here are a few statistics on the 2017-18 flu season compiled by the CDC:
- Only 2 of 5 Americans in the U.S. received the flu shot by early November 2017.
- 6% of all persons 6 months and up received the flu shot.
- 8% of all children 6 mths-17 years old received the flu shot.
- 5% of all adults 18 and up received the flu shot.
Among children, flu vaccinations were similar across the board of all racial/ethnic groups with one exception- non-Hispanic children of other/multiple races had higher flu vaccination coverage than non-Hispanic Black children.
- Among adults 18-49, vaccinations decreased by 3.7% in the 2017-18 flu season compared to the same period of time in the 2016-17 flu season.
- Among Hispanics, vaccinations decreased by 7.7% in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17.
- Unvaccinated people are at a higher risk of contracting the flu virus and transmitting the virus to others, some of who are at risk of having the flu/severe illness.
- 3 of every 5 people 6 months and over in the U.S. were not vaccinated by early November 2017.
Here are statistics on mortality rates due to the flu:
- A total of 101 influenza-related deaths in children occurred throughout the 2016-2017 flu season, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first time since the 2014-2015 season that the number has exceeded 100.
- Each year, between 4,000 and 50,000 people are specifically killed by influenza, and most commonly it’s caused from a variation of an influenza A strain virus.
- Influenza B strains tend to occur later in the season and be of the more mild variety.
- Influenza claims between 3000 and 49,000 lives annually.
- Over 10 billion USD is spent yearly combatting and treating the flu.
With these statistics, what can be done about this? Here are a few pointers to help you not get sick:
- Your body needs sleep. Your immune system will not function properly without proper rest.
- Eating healthier. Your body needs the proper nutrients, vitamins and minerals to ward off the flu.
- Water Intake. Increasing water intake is crucial. During the winter months, water intake falls precipitously. Go beyond the government-recommended 8 glasses of water per day. (I would estimate a healthy 200-lb adult male would need at least 12-15 glasses of water daily). Alternately, try snaking on water-based foods also to keep hydrated.
In closing, and I am sure you’ve seen this already by now- the flu is no joke. This flu season has been brutal! Stay healthy people. Optimum health is fundamental to a vibrant life.
Staying healthy is a huge part of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.
Is depression different amongst humans, whether they be male, female or nonbinary? In so many words, yes. As far as symptom patterns tend to play out, they will usually fall in line with the two major genders. For women, the symptoms are more readily visible (i.e. crying, overeating) as for men, the symptoms are more subdued (i.e. working to excess, drinking/abusing drugs, working out to excess). In any case, the symptoms of depression may in fact hit men harder due to lifestyle choices and extracurricular activities.
Here are the top 5 signs of depression for men:
- Self-medication (abuse of controlled substances, abuse of alcohol and abuse of medications)
- Escapism (working more, working out to excess, retreating into more ‘childlike’ pastimes such as video gaming, LARP, etc)
- Risk-taking becoming a regular part of life (reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol)
- Becoming controlling, violent and/or abusive
Studies show that women are 3X as likely than men to be diagnosed with depression than men are and are at least 2X as likely to seek treatment for it. Here is a list of the top 7 causes/triggers for depression in women:
- Puberty (biological and social fallout from it- not fitting in, body image, etc)
- Premenstrual difficulty
- Postpartum depression
- Trials and tribulations of life itself
- Accompanying conditions of depression (anxiety, substance abuse and/or eating disorders)
Why the differences?
Obviously with traditional gender roles for the main two genders being as they are, women are afforded more avenues to get help and to communicate their feelings. Men are taught to “man up”, to be “strong” and to shun help. For men, them seeking help is often a result of not being able to function correctly (in some cases not at all) as the symptoms of depression interfere with life itself.
What to do about it
Whether you’re male, female, nonbinary or anywhere within the gender spectrum, the treatment for depression is a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Please know that it will take some research, patience and working with your mental health provider to develop the action plan to defeat depression. You and your mental health provider will have to figure out what works and what doesn’t work moving forward. As for the side effects of the medication(s), most of the side effects will go away on their own, usually within the first 3-6 weeks of taking them. As always, listen to your body and alert your mental health provider in lieu of any complications.
Gorman, J.M. “Gender Differences in depression and response to psychotropic medication”. Gender medicine 3.2 (2006): 93-109
Winkler, Dietmar et al. “Gender-specific symptoms of depression and anger attacks”. The Journal of Men’s Health & Gender 3.1 (March 2006): 19-24
“Male Depression: Understanding the Issues”. Mayo Clinic (2013)
“Depression In Women: Understanding the Gender Gap”. Mayo Clinic (2016
The following is an infographic I saw on HerbsInfo.com. Enjoy!
It’s now June… how many of you have kept with your New Year’s pledge to lose weight, perhaps turn your life around? If you’ve fallen off track, that’s no big deal (over 85% of Americans break their New Year’s pledges in under 45 days). In case any of you all need a refresher, or a plan to get over the hump (or just to stay the course), here is my list of 15 ways to have success with any fitness regimen. This is by no means a comprehensive list… but hopefully it will work for you. Now, the list.
There is no shortcut to ideal health (whatever that is for you), no magic pill that lets you hit your five-a-day target and no single exercise that gives you a shredded physique in minutes. It takes time, hard work and an educated approach to get in shape and stay in shape. Following these tips will make your fitness quest (and life) a whole lot easier.
1. Prepping for Success
The better path to a sound diet is found by using your weekends wisely. Use the extra time you have on your weekends to make large batches of healthy meals that you can portion up to cover at least a couple of midweek lunches and dinners, avoiding the certain death of your fitness goals via fast food.
2. Mix Up Your Exercise
Variety is – cliché alert! – the spice of life, and many sports and activities support each other in ways you won’t realise until you try it. For example, strength training for your legs and core will make you a better runner, while those addicted to dumbbells will find Pilates works muscles they’d never even considered.
3. Calibrate Your Fitness Technology
If you invest in a fitness tracker, don’t just sit back and assume that following the preset targets will lead you to glory. Adjust the steps, active minutes and calorie targets regularly to build on your progress, or make them more realistic if you never get close and have started to ignore them. If you don’t engage with your fitness tech, you’ll quickly discard it.
4. Add In Extra Activity
This one of the oldest tricks in the book: take the stairs not the escalator, or get off the bus a stop early and walk. Any activity is better than none, and will only encourage you to do more. And if you really want to up the ante, try sprinting up the stairs (safely) each time you take them – clinical studies found that short bursts of high-intensity stair-climbing can make a significant difference to your cardiorespiratory fitness.
5. Keep Tabs On Your Visceral Fat
You can be skinny on the outside (at least your arms and legs), but fat on the inside. Visceral fat is the type that builds up around your organs and often results in a pot belly. It’s linked with heart disease, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Check your waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) to see if you’re at risk. Grab a piece of string and use it to measure your height, then halve it. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, get exercising – visceral fat is the first type to go when you start a health regimen.
6. Value Your Rest Days
When you start on a fitness kick, it’s tempting to exercise every day while motivation is high. This is a bad move, and one that may see your motivation flame out within weeks, because you’re always exhausted and won’t see the massive improvements you expect for your efforts. Why? You’re not giving your muscles the time and rest they need to recover and grow.
7. Up The Intensity If You’re Short On Time
Health and wellness experts still promote the 150 minutes of moderate activity a week minimum, but now offer an alternative option of 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. That’s running or singles tennis, for example, rather than cycling or walking, which count as moderate. You can also mix the two, so 60 minutes of vigorous cardio plus 30 of moderate will do the trick also. Bear in mind the guidelines also demand strength exercises on two or more days a week alongside your aerobic activity.
8. Treat Your Body Right
Nothing derails a health kick as quickly as injury, as many serious injuries will start out as small ones- you may think it’s OK to push through. Scaling back the intensity for a few days is better than having to shut it down for a few months. If you have an urgent desire to hit the gym, target a different part of the body from the one that’s bothering you.
9. The Drive for Five
Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day should be at the cornerstone of your healthy diet plan. What’s not wise is getting in a rut and eating the same five every day, because different types of fruit and veg contain different vitamins and minerals. A good way to vary your five-a-day is to eat different colors, as the hue is a decent indication of the nutrients they contain.
10. Don’t Undervalue Your Sleep
There is tendency for people who sleep very little to brag about it, as if it’s an indication of their commitment to life. However, getting the full seven to eight hours is vital to a healthy lifestyle, as it provides the energy for your exercise and even influences dietary choices – a 2016 study found that in the day following a night of limited sleep, people ate an extra 385 calories on average. You don’t snooze, you lose.
11. Increase Your Cadence On Your Runs
If you are consistently picking up injuries when running, one change it’s definitely worth trying is to up your rate of strides per minute (your cadence). If you overstrike, thus taking fewer steps, you put extra pressure on your knee and hip joints. Try and take more steps, which means your feet will land more beneath your body, reducing the impact on your joints.
12. Give It Your All or Turn It Loose
The first time you try an exercise it’s very hard, but at least quite novel. The second time the novelty is gone, and it’s still hard, leading to the temptation to quit. Try it at least once more, as the third time is often the charm – when a sport or workout starts to become as enjoyable as it is tough.
13. Count Reps Backwards
This is a mental trick that might make resistance workouts a little easier. Counting down the reps means by the time it’s really hurting you’re at the 3,2,1 stage, which feels closer to the end than 8,9,10 or whatever target you’re going for. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.
14. Make Full Use Of Your Street Furniture
Exercising outdoors is a great way to ensure you get your hit of vitamin D (if it’s sunny) as well as a good workout, and it doesn’t have to be all cardio. As well as the exercise machines that litter many parks, you can nearly always finds a bar or ledge for pull-ups, or a bench or wall to do dips on. Rarer treats can even include chains to use as ersatz TRX ropes.
15. Record Stats and Progress
Nothing builds motivation as efficiently as seeing signs of improvement, so make sure you keep some kind of record of your activity. It can be as simple as noting your record five-rep max or fastest 5K time, using either one of the many excellent fitness apps available or old-fashioned pen and paper.
In closing, these tips and tricks will help in your fitness goals. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a fundamental building block in fitness and in life. Knowledge (alongside hard work and dedication) is the most essential of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!
Anxiety is real. In America today, according to the National Institutes of Health, anxiety disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States (approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54). Anxiety is a contributing factor of many health disorders (high blood pressure, obesity, heart attacks, mental fatigue). Many Americans are on medications for these disorders (that is/can be a case of the cure being worse than the disease). A viable alternative to risky prescription medication is a natural or holistic approach to treating anxiety.
Here are 6 tips for managing anxiety naturally:
1. Maintain Stable Blood Sugar
“It isn’t disrespectful to the complexity of existence to point out that despair is, often, just low blood sugar and exhaustion.” – Alain de Botton
The American diet promotes a blood sugar roller coaster, and every time we’re on the ride down, we can feel anxious.
When our blood sugar crashes, our body responds with a stress response. We secrete stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which tell our liver to make more blood sugar to keep us alive. The good news: We stay alive. The bad news: This hormonal stress response feels identical to anxiety.
By stabilizing blood sugar, you can avoid this stress response and decrease your anxiety.
Here’s how to maintain stable blood sugar:
Eat more protein and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, coconut oil, butter and ghee from pasture-raised animals).
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks daily; don’t skip meals.
Take a spoonful of coconut oil upon waking, in the afternoon and right before bed; this will serve as a blood sugar safety net throughout the day.
Always have a snack handy (e.g., nuts, hard-boiled egg, dark chocolate, almond butter or jerky).
2. Get Off Caffeine (for a while)
Don’t underestimate the relationship between caffeine and anxiety.
Think of it like this: When we’re caffeinated, our nervous system is ready for a fight. Introduce a stressor- you are on Defcon 5 regarding anxiety.
If you suffer from anxiety, do yourself a favor and get off caffeine!!!!
I know, I know, the idea of going off caffeine might be giving you anxiety right now. If you reduce your intake gradually (coffee -> half-caf -> black tea -> green tea -> herbal tea) over the course of a week or two, you’ll avoid withdrawal symptoms. After a few weeks, you may be surprised to see that your anxiety has decreased, your sleep has improved, your energy is stabilized, and you even tolerate stress better.
If you had a successful trial off caffeine, but you want to go back to having that morning ritual, consider making green tea your go-to beverage, rather than a “Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte.”
Getting a good night’s rest is your best bet against anxiety.
There’s a 2-way street between anxiety and sleep–anxiety causes insomnia and sleep deprivation makes us vulnerable to anxiety.
The best way to address this is to set ourselves up for better sleep. Conveniently, the way to do this overlaps with the overall approach to anxiety.
Reduce or eliminate caffeine
Even if you have no trouble falling asleep, caffeine decreases sleep quality.
Maintain stable blood sugar
Blood sugar fluctuations disrupt your sleep, causing middle of the night awakening.
Be strategic about light:
Let your eyes see bright light in the morning and dim light at night.
If your room isn’t completely dark when you sleep, wear an eye mask or get blackout curtains.
Wind down and unplug before bed
4. Treat the Gut
Perhaps you’ve seen some of the recent articles about the relationship between gut flora and mood.
The bugs in our digestive tract have a profound impact on how we feel and play an integral role in anxiety disorders.
Here’s how to promote healthy gut flora and heal the gut:
Avoid what irritates the gut:
Food: Gluten, sugar, industrial vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, alcohol.
Certain medications: Antacids, antibiotics, oral contraceptives (only make changes under close supervision from your doctor).
Add in what soothes the gut:
Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, miso paste, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, kefir (if you tolerate dairy).
Starchy tubers: Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, plantain, taro, yucca.
Purchase Wise Choice Market Bone Broth.
Make your own bone broth.
Take a probiotic.
Consider supplementing with glutamine and collagen.
Create the conditions for the gut to heal:
Squatty Potty can be life-changing.
Get enough sleep.
Manage stress with yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, unplugging, acupuncture, being in nature.
Treat gut infections. If you suspect you may have a chronic gut infection, get evaluated by an integrative or functional medicine practitioner.
Exercise is the best anti-anxiety medicine.
If you struggle to exercise regularly, forget the boot camps and triathlons. Get in the habit of mini workouts. Do small amounts of exercise in your living room or take a brief walk outside. Sustainability is key.
In general, stand more, sit less, walk whenever possible, and treat your body right with exercise.
Yoga and Tai Qi are particularly beneficial for anxiety, but the most important thing is to find something you enjoy.
Magnesium: Nature’s Xanax
Many of us are deficient in magnesium, since our food is grown in magnesium-depleted soil.
You can supplement with magnesium in a few different ways:
Take an Epsom salt bath.
Take a chelated magnesium supplement (e.g., magnesium glycinate).
Try a topical magnesium gel.
Anxiety has a significant impact on quality of life. Maintaining stable blood sugar, reducing caffeine, getting enough sleep, healing the gut, getting some exercise and filling the body with magnesium are safe tactics that go a long way toward reducing anxiety. If your anxiety does not respond to these lifestyle hacks, go see your healthcare provider.
In closing, you only have one life. Life is too short to let it slip away in anxiety and fear.
Living life free from anxiety is another way THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.
The following is an op-ed piece on the Failsafe Diet. This link is http://fedup.com.au/images/stories/foodbrochure1.pdf to a brochure (downloadable and printable) from the Fed Up website.
What is the FailSafe Diet?
Due to the massive use of additives and preservatives in today’s food, people are looking for alternative food sources. These additives have flooded the market in our everyday grocery items and sadly the majority of people have no idea what they are actually consuming or if or how it is affecting them. Almost everyday you are hearing about some recall on food, or some outbreak of some type of foodborne illness, largely due to additives in the food providing a very suitable environment for disease to spring up and spread. For some people, having good intentions about the food they eat and the food they buy for their families is not enough. These people want the best. I recently read about a Australian mother who refused to continue to feed her kids things that made her sick.
The Failsafe Diet is all about avoiding artificial colors, flavor enhancers, preservatives, synthetic antioxidants, and cutting down to low salicylates, glutamates and amines. Sounds daunting when you hear it like that, but speaking from experience it isn’t, you just need to take a deep breath and take it one step at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. It’s worth the change to experience a positive more peaceful household that you never imagined possible! All these things can affect behavior, tantrums, learning difficulties, sleep patterns, bed wetting, rashes, anxiety, asthma and so many other conditions that affect children and adults alike.
Look up Failsafe Diet support groups on Facebook (anything and everything can be found on Facebook). There is the RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook, plus author Sue Dengate with her offerings Fed Up and the Failsafe Cookbook.
Again, here’s the link from earlier: http://fedup.com.au/images/stories/foodbrochure1.pdf
In closing, if you want something akin to the Paleo Diet, give the Failsafe Diet a try. Not only will you get clean eating, you will get rid of additives, pesticides, colors and steroids.
With the changing of the seasons (since we are in springtime), comes good food- cookouts, more ready-to-eat foods, catering- you name it. Warm weather usually means more accessible, portable food. Unfortunately, food poisoning is a side effect of the plethora of great food choices out there. Did you know over 3000 people die annually of complications of food poisoning? This is no joke. Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms — including bacteria, viruses and parasites — or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning.
Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food at any point of processing or production. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked.
Food poisoning symptoms, which can start within hours of eating contaminated food, often include nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Most often, food poisoning is mild and resolves without treatment. But some people need to go to the hospital.
Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
Abdominal pain and cramps
Signs and symptoms may start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they may begin days or even weeks later. Sickness caused by food poisoning generally lasts from a few hours to several days.
When to see a doctor
If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, seek medical attention.
Frequent episodes of vomiting and inability to keep liquids down
Bloody vomit or stools
Diarrhea for more than three days
Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping
An oral temperature higher than 101.5 F (38.6 C)
Signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
Neurological symptoms such as blurry vision, muscle weakness and tingling in the arms.
Contamination of food can happen at any point during its production: growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or preparing. Cross-contamination — the transfer of harmful organisms from one surface to another — is often the cause. This is especially troublesome for raw, ready-to-eat foods, such as salads or other produce. Because these foods aren’t cooked, harmful organisms aren’t destroyed before eating and can cause food poisoning.
Many bacterial, viral or parasitic agents cause food poisoning. The following table shows some of the possible contaminants, when you might start to feel symptoms and common ways the organism is spread.
Contaminant Onset of symptoms Foods affected and means of transmission
Campylobacter 2 to 5 days Meat and poultry. Contamination occurs during processing if animal feces contact meat surfaces. Other sources include unpasteurized milk and contaminated water.
Clostridium botulinum 12 to 72 hours Home-canned foods with low acidity, improperly canned commercial foods, smoked or salted fish, potatoes baked in aluminum foil, and other foods kept at warm temperatures for too long.
Clostridium perfringens 8 to 16 hours Meats, stews and gravies. Commonly spread when serving dishes don’t keep food hot enough or food is chilled too slowly.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 1 to 8 days Beef contaminated with feces during slaughter. Spread mainly by undercooked ground beef. Other sources include unpasteurized milk and apple cider, alfalfa sprouts, and contaminated water.
Giardia lamblia 1 to 2 weeks Raw, ready-to-eat produce and contaminated water. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Hepatitis A 28 days Raw, ready-to-eat produce and shellfish from contaminated water. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Listeria 9 to 48 hours Hot dogs, luncheon meats, unpasteurized milk and cheeses, and unwashed raw produce. Can be spread through contaminated soil and water.
Noroviruses (Norwalk-like viruses) 12 to 48 hours Raw, ready-to-eat produce and shellfish from contaminated water. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Rotavirus 1 to 3 days Raw, ready-to-eat produce. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Salmonella 1 to 3 days Raw or contaminated meat, poultry, milk or egg yolks. Survives inadequate cooking. Can be spread by knives, cutting surfaces or an infected food handler.
Shigella 24 to 48 hours Seafood and raw, ready-to-eat produce. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Staphylococcus aureus 1 to 6 hours Meats and prepared salads, cream sauces, and cream-filled pastries. Can be spread by hand contact, coughing and sneezing.
Vibrio vulnificus 1 to 7 days Raw oysters and raw or undercooked mussels, clams, and whole scallops. Can be spread through contaminated seawater.
Whether you become ill after eating contaminated food depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, your age and your health. High-risk groups include:
Older adults. As you get older, your immune system may not respond as quickly and as effectively to infectious organisms as when you were younger.
Pregnant women. During pregnancy, changes in metabolism and circulation may increase the risk of food poisoning. Your reaction may be more severe during pregnancy. Rarely, your baby may get sick, too.
Infants and young children. Their immune systems haven’t fully developed.
People with chronic disease. Having a chronic condition — such as diabetes, liver disease or AIDS — or receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer reduces your immune response.
The most common serious complication of food poisoning is dehydration — a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals. If you’re a healthy adult and drink enough to replace fluids you lose from vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration shouldn’t be a problem.
Infants, older adults and people with suppressed immune systems or chronic illnesses may become severely dehydrated when they lose more fluids than they can replace. In that case, they may need to be hospitalized and receive intravenous fluids. In extreme cases, dehydration can be fatal.
Some types of food poisoning have potentially serious complications for certain people. These include:
Listeria monocytogenes. Complications of a listeria food poisoning may be most severe for an unborn baby. Early in pregnancy, a listeria infection may lead to miscarriage. Later in pregnancy, a listeria infection may lead to stillbirth, premature birth or a potentially fatal infection in the baby after birth — even if the mother was only mildly ill. Infants who survive a listeria infection may experience long-term neurological damage and delayed development.
Escherichia coli (E. coli). Certain E. coli strains can cause a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome. This syndrome damages the lining of the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, sometimes leading to kidney failure. Older adults, children younger than 5 and people with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing this complication. If you’re in one of these risk categories, see your doctor at the first sign of profuse or bloody diarrhea.
PREPARING FOR YOUR DOCTOR APPOINTMENT
If you or your child needs to see a doctor, you’ll likely see your primary care provider first. If there are questions about the diagnosis, your doctor may refer you to an infectious disease specialist.
What you can do
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. Some questions to ask include:
What’s the likely cause of the symptoms? Are there other possible causes?
Is there a need for tests?
What’s the best treatment approach? Are there alternatives?
Is there a need for medication? If yes, is there a generic alternative to the medicine you’re prescribing?
How can I ease the symptoms?
What to expect from your doctor
Some questions the doctor may ask include:
Has anyone in your family or otherwise close to you developed similar symptoms? If so, did you eat the same things?
Have you traveled anywhere where the water or food might not be safe?
Are you having bloody bowel movements?
Do you have a fever?
Had you taken antibiotics in the days or weeks before your symptoms started?
When did symptoms begin?
Have the symptoms been continuous, or do they come and go?
What foods have you eaten in the past few days?
What you can do in the meantime
Drink plenty of fluids. Stick with bland foods to reduce stress on your digestive system. If your child is sick, follow the same approach — offer plenty of fluids and bland food. If you’re breast-feeding or using formula, continue to feed your child as usual.
Ask your child’s doctor if giving your child an oral rehydration fluid (Pedialyte, Enfalyte, others) is appropriate. Older adults and people with weakened immune systems might also benefit from oral rehydration solutions. Medications that help ease diarrhea generally aren’t recommended for children.
TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS
Food poisoning is often diagnosed based on a detailed history, including how long you’ve been sick, your symptoms and specific foods you’ve eaten. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam, looking for signs of dehydration.
Depending on your symptoms and health history, your doctor may conduct diagnostic tests, such as a blood test, stool culture or examination for parasites, to identify the cause and confirm the diagnosis.
For a stool culture, your doctor will send a sample of your stool to a laboratory, where a technician will try to identify the infectious organism. If an organism is found, your doctor likely will notify your local health department to determine if the food poisoning is linked to an outbreak.
In some cases, the cause of food poisoning can’t be identified.
TREATMENTS AND DRUGS
Treatment for food poisoning typically depends on the source of the illness, if known, and the severity of your symptoms. For most people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days, though some types of food poisoning may last longer.
Treatment of food poisoning may include:
Replacement of lost fluids. Fluids and electrolytes — minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in your body — lost to persistent diarrhea need to be replaced. Some children and adults with persistent diarrhea or vomiting may need hospitalization, where they can receive salts and fluids through a vein (intravenously), to prevent or treat dehydration.
Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning and your symptoms are severe. Food poisoning caused by listeria needs to be treated with intravenous antibiotics during hospitalization. The sooner treatment begins, the better. During pregnancy, prompt antibiotic treatment may help keep the infection from affecting the baby.
Adults with diarrhea that isn’t bloody and who have no fever may get relief from taking the medication loperamide (Imodium A-D) or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol). Ask your doctor about these options.
LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES
Food poisoning often improves without treatment within 48 hours. To help keep yourself more comfortable and prevent dehydration while you recover, try the following:
Let your stomach settle. Stop eating and drinking for a few hours.
Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. You might also try drinking clear soda, clear broth or noncaffeinated sports drinks, such as Gatorade. You’re getting enough fluid when you’re urinating normally and your urine is clear and not dark.
Ease back into eating. Gradually begin to eat bland, low-fat, easy-to-digest foods, such as soda crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas and rice. Stop eating if your nausea returns.
Avoid certain foods and substances until you’re feeling better. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
Rest. The illness and dehydration can weaken and tire you.
PREVENTING FOOD POISIONING
To prevent food poisoning at home:
Wash your hands, utensils and food surfaces often. Wash your hands well with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. Use hot, soapy water to wash utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces you use.
Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. When shopping, preparing food or storing food, keep raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish away from other foods. This prevents cross-contamination.
Cook foods to a safe temperature. The best way to tell if foods are cooked to a safe temperature is to use a food thermometer. You can kill harmful organisms in most foods by cooking them to the right temperature.
Cook ground beef to 160 F (71.1 C); steaks, roasts chops, such as lamb, pork and veal, to at least 145 F (62.8 C). Cook chicken and turkey to 165 F (73.9 C). Make sure fish and shellfish are cooked thoroughly.
Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly — within two hours of purchasing or preparing them. If the room temperature is above 90 F (32.2 C), refrigerate perishable foods within one hour.
Defrost food safely. Don’t thaw food at room temperature. The safest way to thaw food is to defrost it in the refrigerator. If you microwave frozen food using the “defrost” or “50 percent power” setting, be sure to cook it immediately.
Throw it out when in doubt. If you aren’t sure if a food has been prepared, served or stored safely, discard it. Food left at room temperature too long may contain bacteria or toxins that can’t be destroyed by cooking. Don’t taste food that you’re unsure about — just throw it out. Even if it looks and smells fine, it may not be safe to eat.
Food poisoning is especially serious and potentially life-threatening for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. These individuals should take extra precautions by avoiding the following foods:
Raw or rare meat and poultry
Raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels and scallops
Raw or undercooked eggs or foods that may contain them, such as cookie dough and homemade ice cream
Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, bean, clover and radish sprouts
Unpasteurized juices and ciders
Unpasteurized milk and milk products
Soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie and Camembert; blue-veined cheese; and unpasteurized cheese
Refrigerated pates and meat spreads
Uncooked hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats.
In closing, preparation always leads to a safe time, this being no exception. Food poisoning is no joke. It is an unfortunate (and unnecessary) side effect of good weather and good times. These tips we have given you will help you through the ordeal of food poisoning.
Stay safe out there eating.
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