Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

The Long-Term Effects of Foodborne Illness Can Change Your Life

Opinion

(This article by Karen Fifield, a food-safety educator with Michigan State University Extension, was published here on Jan. 5, 2015, and is reposted with permission.)

Most of the time we think of food poisoning as stomach cramps and maybe vomiting and diarrhea. Rarely do we hear or see the long-term effects it can have on a person’s body. There are some serious complications that can become a part of your life. Foodborne illness can be as small as feeling like you have the flu, or it can be deadly.

Different types of foodborne illness affect each person’s body in various ways. If you have a compromised immune system, are very young or are older, the chances of contracting a foodborne illness are greater. Also, depending on which virus, bacteria or toxin is contracted, your symptoms and severity can be different.

Kidney failure is a serious complication that can occur with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This is a possibility after contracting E. coli bacteria. The bacteria can cause an infection that can produce a toxin substance that may cause injury to the kidney.

Chronic arthritis can be brought on with an infection of Shigella or Salmonella. It starts with eye irritation and painful urination. If this is not taken care of, it can lead to chronic arthritis. This leads to a lifetime of inflammation and joint pain. Another foodborne illness that can contribute to chronic arthritis is Campylobacter.

With different types of bacteria, viruses and toxins that can occur from foodborne illness, there are still several other long-term effects that can take place. There can be brain and nerve damage, or even death, that can change the lives of individuals with weak or compromised immune systems, infants, or the very young and older adults. We all can contract foodborne illness, but the chances are increased for these individuals. Listeria can cause mental retardation, seizures, paralysis, blindness and deafness in newborn infants.

Michigan State University Extension recommends taking simple precautions by washing your hands often and for at least 20 seconds under warm, running water. Keep hot foods hot, 135 degrees F or above. Keep cold foods cold, 40 degrees F or lower, and, when in doubt, throw it out. Do your part in keeping your food safe and free from foodborne pathogens.

© Food Safety News
  • anne

    Never drink the water offered on airlines, buy bottled water always. United set me and the person next to me up for days of diarrhea, pain and belly problems that can only be traced to their tank water. They never responded to a critical comment on two peoples’ experience.