Salmonella poisoning is also known in medicine as salmonellosis or salmonella enteritis. As the name itself suggests, this disease is a poisoning or inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract by salmonella bacteria. The symptoms are similar to a stomach flu and can therefore easily be underestimated. Medical treatment is strongly advised, especially in children and the elderly.
What is salmonellosis?
In the warm season, the number of illnesses with salmonella poisoning increases again and again. Salmonella poisoning, also known as salmonellosis, is the most common foodborne infectious disease in Germany. See wholevehicles for What are the Meanings of Coccygodynia.
The gastrointestinal tract is disturbed by the penetration of salmonella. These rod-shaped bacteria come in many species. About 120 different species cause salmonella poisoning in humans. Depending on the type of bacteria, salmonella poisoning shows a different clinical picture. The bacteria enter the body through spoiled food.
However, not all ingested bacteria lead to severe salmonella poisoning. On the other hand, a relatively short illness duration of one to two days occurs very frequently.
What is certain is that the cause of salmonella poisoning is infection from spoiled food. At suitable temperatures, salmonella find a good breeding ground, especially in poultry, meat, egg dishes and dairy products. Some species cannot be destroyed even by cooking.
Salmonella are also viable for several months. Even when food is frozen, they don’t die and can still cause salmonella poisoning after thawing. They multiply very quickly and thus get into the body in large quantities when eating infested food.
The gastric acid destroys a large number of salmonella with its germicidal effect. In children or the elderly, there is less stomach acid. These groups are therefore particularly at risk and suffer from severe salmonella poisoning even with a low salmonella count. In the case of salmonella poisoning, the bacteria migrate into the intestine and settle in the intestinal mucosa. They damage them by excreting bacterial toxins. The disease can break out after just a few hours.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Salmonellosis manifests itself differently in everyone. How severe the symptoms are depends on how strong the immune system is. The illness usually begins with sudden nausea and vomiting. The patient suffers from headaches and extreme abdominal cramps. There is also watery diarrhea, which is very painful.
Since the bacterium infects the intestines and causes inflammation there (enteritis), blood can also appear in the stool due to the damaged intestinal mucosa. Fever occurs in about 50 percent of those affected. With diarrhea, the body loses large amounts of fluids, which can lead to a lack of electrolytes. This is noticeable in a general feeling of weakness and dry skin.
The mouth and mucous membranes are also dry. If the lack of fluids and electrolytes is not balanced, it can lead to tachycardia, muscle cramps and clouded consciousness. Symptoms usually disappear after a few days and the patient recovers. In rare cases, the disease can become severe.
If the bacteria reach other organs via the bloodstream, they lead to severe infections there. Abscesses can develop in the lungs, liver or kidneys, and joints, meninges, the inner lining of the heart or the urinary tract can also become infected. As a result, life-threatening salmonella sepsis with circulatory collapse and organ failure is possible.
Course of the disease
Salmonella poisoning begins with general symptoms such as feeling unwell, nausea and vomiting.
There are also abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Severe salmonella poisoning is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea and fever. Severe salmonellosis can also cause chills. Those affected feel seriously ill in a short time.
The disruption of the intestinal function results in a deficiency in the water balance and in the electrolyte balance of the body. Salmonella poisoning can also affect heart function and temperature regulation.
This can lead to a drop in blood pressure and even collapse. While healthy and younger people recover after a few hours of being unwell, salmonella poisoning can also be fatal in children and the elderly.
If salmonella poisoning is treated professionally, complications only rarely occur. The danger of negative consequences exists above all in people who suffer from a weakened immune system. This primarily includes children and the elderly. In Germany, however, deaths due to salmonella complications are very rare.
One of the greatest dangers of salmonellosis is the large loss of fluids. This in turn can cause circulatory collapse or circulatory failure. The loss of liquid is usually due to prolonged vomiting or persistent diarrhea. The lack of liquid can be recognized by dry mucous membranes in the mouth, a dry tongue, dry, wrinkled skin and a reduced amount of urine.
Because the blood plasma also thickens, the risk of blood clot formation (thrombosis) increases. At the same time, there is a risk of blood vessel occlusion. If the patient suffers from previous damage to his kidneys, there is a risk of kidney failure.
If the salmonella penetrate into the bloodstream, the salmonellosis can spread further throughout the body. This increases the risk of inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), inflammation of the meninges (meningitis), inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia), inflammation of the heart (endocarditis), inflammation of the vertebrae (spondylitis) or inflammation of the bones (osteomyelitis).
Reactive arthritis, a disease of the joints, can also occur. In the worst case, life-threatening sepsis (blood poisoning) occurs. Another life-threatening complication is the development of intestinal ulcers, which trigger intestinal perforation.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you suddenly experience symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and headaches, you may have salmonella poisoning. A visit to the doctor is advisable if the symptoms do not go away with bed rest and rest. If there is a severe fever or painful defecation with blood and mucus admixtures, an immediate visit to the doctor is recommended. Salmonella poisoning often occurs in connection with eating spoiled food.
If the symptoms appear after consuming eggs, meat, fish, milk ice cream and other perishable products, the general practitioner should be consulted. Persons with a weakened immune system, as well as children and the elderly, require prompt treatment. Signs of dehydration, such as reduced urine output and a dry mouth, must be checked out immediately.
If you have the typical symptoms of bacteremia, such as high fever and tachycardia, you should call the emergency services. The patient requires hospitalization to prevent life-threatening complications. Salmonella poisoning can be treated by your family doctor or a gastroenterologist. If this happens in time, a positive course of the disease can be expected. Most patients are largely free of symptoms after three to four days. The family doctor must be informed about persistent signs of illness.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of salmonella poisoning is primarily aimed at compensating for the loss of fluids and strengthening the mineral balance again. The patient should drink enough fluids. This can be lightly sweetened or lightly salted.
The benchmark is that the liquid must not taste like tear fluid at most. If the body is already severely dehydrated, an electrolyte solution from the pharmacy will also help. In the case of severe vomiting during salmonella poisoning, the patient may only drink small amounts of the liquid. During the treatment of salmonella poisoning, the patient’s circulatory functions should be closely monitored. In order to relieve the burden on the intestines, the patient only gets light food, such as clear soups, rusks or grated apples. This also stimulates the natural activity of the intestines again.
The administration of medication for nausea and vomiting as well as constipating medication can alleviate the course of the disease somewhat. Antibiotics can also be used in severe cases of salmonella poisoning. As a result, however, it takes longer for the salmonella to be excreted from the body and the course of the disease is delayed.
Salmonella poisoning often irritates the intestinal nervous system. Therefore, care must be taken during aftercare to avoid further irritation of the nerve cells or at least to reduce the risk of this. People who work in the sale or manufacture of food and have become infected with salmonella must refrain from their work until the salmonellosis has gone away.
The restorative diet is an important part of the aftercare of salmonella poisoning. This includes the regular intake of fluids at short intervals. It should also continue for two to three days after the symptoms have subsided. The patient takes two to three sips of lukewarm water every 10 to 15 minutes. Drinking a traditional broth or teas such as chamomile, fennel, anise or caraway tea is also considered helpful.
About three to four days after the symptoms have improved, you should only eat bland food that contains small portions. Boiled carrots, rice, small amounts of bananas and soft-boiled oatmeal without bran are recommended. From the fourth day, foods that contain protein, such as boiled chicken, can be served again. On the other hand, red meat, sugar, sausage, dairy products, sweetened drinks, pastries, nuts and whole grain products should be avoided for the first ten days. It can also be useful to give a probiotic that contains beneficial bacterial strains that strengthen the intestinal flora.
You can do that yourself
If Samonella poisoning is suspected, a doctor or the nearest hospital should be consulted immediately. As a self-help measure against the often tormenting diarrhea, natural remedies that are able to bind toxins in the intestine have proven themselves. Healing earth, which is taken dissolved in water, is considered to be particularly effective. These preparations are available over the counter in pharmacies and drugstores. A similar effect is attributed to psyllium and psyllium husks, which are mainly sold in health food stores and organic supermarkets.
Severe diarrhea and vomiting are very dehydrating to the body. It is therefore important that those affected make sure they are getting enough fluids and minerals. Vegetable broth is particularly good because the high salt content helps the body to store water in the body. In severe cases or in the case of long-lasting diarrhea, it can also make sense to take food supplements, especially a multi-mineral preparation. In addition, those affected should take it easy and, if possible, stay in bed so that the body can recover from the infection as quickly as possible.
Since salmonella is highly contagious, increased hygiene must also be ensured. In no case should the infected person prepare food for the family. Cups, plates and cutlery must not be shared with other people and must be cleaned with water at a temperature of at least 60 degrees. There is also a risk of smear infection when sharing towels or other hygiene items.