The symptoms of salmonella include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, moderately high fever, and frequent chills. These symptoms are not life-threatening, but can lead to medical complications if proper treatment is not done at the early stages.
Salmonella is a bacterial strain, which when ingested via contaminated food and water, causes food poisoning, which is referred to as salmonellosis. The worst part with this bacteria is that it can foul any type of food item. Salmonella food poisoning is a worldwide problem, affecting millions of people every year. In the United States alone, approximately 500 people die every year because of the medical conditions caused by salmonellosis. Overall, incidences of food poisoning are much higher in crowded regions having poor sanitation.
The root cause is lack of hygiene and sanitation. In a healthy individual, the body manifests infection symptoms after invasion by millions of salmonella. However, some people suffer from food poisoning even when attacked by a small number. After infection, there is an incubation period of about 12 hours to three days. The symptoms are not very serious themselves, but a prolonged condition can lead to medical complications. Thus, timely treatment and following self-care tips are of utmost importance to avoid worsening of the condition.
Humans (as well as pets) infected by salmonella remain as carriers of this deadly organism and pass them out in feces. When the bacteria comes in direct contact with food items or at the time of processing again contaminates food, rendering it unpalatable for human consumption. If, by any chance, people ingest these fouled foods, poisoning symptoms are manifested. This way, salmonella transmission takes place from an infected individual to another.
- The first notable sign of salmonella food poisoning is nausea and dizziness. Within 12 – 48 hours of ingestion, the patient feels an urge to throw up.
- As the incubation period is over, the affected person manifests vomiting, forcing the stomach to empty with pressure. The frequency of vomiting may increase with passing time.
- Nausea, vomiting, and other gastroenteritis symptoms are associated with abdominal cramps and passing of loose stools. Diarrhea symptoms may range from watery feces to bloody stools.
- Some affected people report moderate fever and chills. Weakness, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue are present in all patients with salmonellosis.
- In severe cases, salmonella enters the bloodstream, resulting in bacteremia, after which it may invade the internal tissues of the body, causing a condition called septicemia.
The duration the symptoms vary from one person to another, depending upon factors like overall fitness, age, extent of ingestion, and type of strain. Symptoms are severe and manifested for an extended period in children, older citizens, and those who have underlying health problems. If vomiting and diarrhea persist for a longer period, patients are at a risk of developing dehydration complications.
Even if the symptoms are profound, correct diagnosis is crucial to provide further treatment. This is because, there are several medical problems that mimic the symptoms of salmonella infection. Salmonellosis is suspected, if many people are showing the same gastroenteritis signs, that too after eating the same food. Once in a hospital, the physician will perform stool analysis and culturing of the feces as an appropriate testing medium. Poisoning is confirmed after identifying the same strain from the medium.
The correct treatment method is debatable. While some physicians prescribe antibiotics for killing salmonella, others are against prescription of medication, considering that salmonellosis is a self-limiting condition. Nevertheless, administration of antibiotics is imperative for people who have a compromised immune system.