April 19, 2024

Long Term Effects of Food Poisoning Illnesses Can Be Significant

Food Poisoning Bulletin reports about food poisoning outbreaks all the time. We do warn that many pathogens can not only make you sick in the short term, but can cause significant problems for months or years to come. The long term effects of food poisoning illnesses can be significant.

Long Term Effects of Food Poisoning Illnesses Can Be Significant

While any bout of food poisoning can be uncomfortable and distressing, most people recover from these infections without medical attention. But for some pathogens, and for some people, permeant disability and chronic disease can be the end result, even after what seems like full recovery.

One of the conditions that can be caused by Salmonella or Campylobacter infections is reactive arthritis. This is a type of joint inflammation that develops within a few weeks of recovery. This condition, which causes eye irritation and painful joints, can be temporary or can become chronic.

Salmonella infections can also cause irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, that causes abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. This condition is incurable.

High blood pressure is another possible complication of a Salmonella infection. This condition damages arteries and organs and can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Campylobacter infections can be followed by Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome, or GBS. This scary complication can cause whole body paralysis. The syndrome causes your body’s immune system to attack your nerves. While there are treatments for this syndrome, there is no cure.

Salmonella and Campylobacter infections can also trigger endocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart’s valves and chambers. Treatment is with antibiotics.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections are one of the most serious bacterial infections. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a complication of this illness. It most often occurs in children under the age of five, but adults can develop it too and become seriously ill. About 5 to 10% of E. coli patients develop HUS. This syndrome is a type of kidney failure. Some HUS patients may need dialysis for the rest of their lives, and some need kidney transplants.

Listeria monocytogenes is not a common infection, but the effects are serious. A Listeria infection can cause listeria meningitis, or inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain. Some Listeria survivors have neurological dysfunction and may need lifelong care. And, of course, listeriosis can cause miscarriage and stillbirth in pregnant women, which are devastating losses.

Now that you understand the lifelong effects of food poisoning, you have more reasons than ever to avoid these infections. Stay current on food recalls and monitor food outbreak investigations to protect yourself and your family.


  1. Stephen Ruggero says

    Thanks for this article, Linda! For me, IBS seemed to pop up “out of the blue.” I wrongly believed that the effects of a salmonella infection from years ago were in the rearview mirror. Once I understood that the infection was at the root, did I effectively treat the symptoms. With effective treatment I am now doing much better.

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