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Food Poisoning and Recreational Water Illnesses

Here in New England, we like to take advantage of the long summer days. Bright sun and hot air are perfect for outdoor get-togethers. With all the cookouts and beach days, it is essential to keep safety in mind. Food poisoning and recreational water illnesses are potential hazards for summer activities. However, that shouldn’t stop the fun! ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care has the answers to all the common questions regarding food poisoning and recreational water illnesses below:

What Is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is an infection caused by different types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites in food. Toxins and chemicals can also contaminate foods, causing food poisoning. The most common germs that cause food poisoning are Norovirus and Salmonella. These hazards are most present when food is improperly stored, cooked, or prepared in an unsanitary environment.

How Do I Tell Food Poisoning Apart From the Stomach Flu?

A reaction to food poisoning can occur within two hours after eating contaminated food or several days later. A stomach virus usually takes 24-48 hours after exposure to begin showing symptoms.

Typical Symptoms of Food Poisoning Include:

  • An upset stomach or stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Symptoms of the Stomach Flu Are the Same but Can Also Include:

  • Constipation
  • Joint stiffness
  • Weight loss

How Can I Be Careful to Avoid Food Poisoning?

Remember these steps when preparing, serving, and storing food:

  • Keep raw meats, seafood, and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods
  • Make sure to set your refrigerator for 40°F or below. Refrigerate leftover food within two hours of cooking
  • Regularly check refrigerated and pantry foods for expiration dates and mold
  • Wash your hands and clean work surfaces and utensils before, during, and after cooking food
  • Using a food thermometer, make sure that you are cooking foods to the correct internal temperature to kill bacteria. Check out this Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart!

If I Have Food Poisoning, Should I See a Doctor?

You should seek medical attention if you have severe symptoms such as:

  • Fever of 102°F or higher
  • Vomiting to the extent that you are unable to keep liquids down
  • Bloody diarrhea, or diarrhea lasting over three days
  • Signs of dehydration including a dry mouth and throat, dizziness when standing up, or little to no urination

What Is Recreational Water Illness (RWI)?

RWI are caused by ingesting microscopic viruses and bacteria found in contaminated water. Water contamination can occur in water sources that people swim and play in, like pools, hot tubs, water playgrounds, oceans, lakes, and rivers.

RWI Symptoms Include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Skin, ear, or eye problems
  • Cough and or shortness of breath

How Can I Prevent RWI?

The best way to prevent recreational water illnesses from spreading is to keep germs out of the water.

  • Keep pools and hot tubs clean
  • Avoid stagnant natural water sources
  • Keep water out of your mouth when you swim
  • Dry your ears after you swim

At ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care, we strive to keep our communities happy and healthy. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, you can schedule a virtual visit or stop by any of our ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care centers! Check out our locations here.