June 5, 2020

Food Poisoning Can Have Lifelong Health Effects

Every American has had food poisoning at one time or another. Most people dismiss the illness as the “24 hour flu”, even though no such illness exists. If you have had diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, ┬ánausea, and fever that passes fairly quickly, you probably had food poisoning.

Woman's Torso Food PoisoningMost people recover fully after these illnesses and don’t give them a second thought. But did you know that some people never fully recover from food poisoning? The effects of these illnesses can last a lifetime.

In the UK, a young women who contracted an E. coli O157:H7 infection when she was two years old just learned she needs a second kidney transplant. When she got sick as a child, she was hospitalized with kidney failure after eating a contaminated sandwich. She had a stroke and many serious infections and was on dialysis for four years. She did receive a kidney transplant and led a normal life. But the kidney started failing, and now she is in renal failure.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon for some food poisoning victims. A kidney transplant usually only lasts for about 15 years. And other pathogenic bacteria can cause other serious health problems years after the infection has ended. Those conditions are called “chronic sequalae”.

A Campylobacter infection, for instance, can lead to reactive arthritis years later. Some people suffer Guillain-Barre syndrome after this illness, which can cause paralysis. Others may have blood infections, gallbladder inflammation, and septicemia. Thirty-eight students at Durand High School in Wisconsin, who were served raw milk without their knowledge and got sick, could develop these illnesses in the future.

E. coli infections can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, that can cause irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, and neurological problems in addition to kidney failure. Problems that result from a Listeria monocytogenes infection can lead to seizures and paralysis. And Salmonella infections can trigger reactive arthritis, infection of the bone marrow, and myocarditis.

So if you have had food poisoning, especially if it was serious, make sure your doctor knows about it. She should monitor your health for possible long term complications for the foreseeable future.

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