Foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning, is quite common all around the globe. There are some areas where the disease is so prevalent that it has become a public health problem. When you consider that even in America where the food supply is believed to be relatively safe, we still see more than 48,000,000 cases of food poisoning every year, it can be scary.

There are many different causes of foodborne illnesses that can range from microbes, pathogens, and bacteria that get into the food source and when consumed cause infections that can make one sick. Add to that the fact that food poisoning may also be the result of chemicals and other hazardous substances seeping into the food supply. With those kinds of factors, it's no wonder people are asking what causes foodborne illnesses and how are they treated?

How Do Contaminants Get Into the Food?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food can be contaminated in many ways. In animal products, the microbes that cause illness are already found in the intestines of the animals that have been raised for food. Most of the contaminants spread to the rest of the meat during slaughtering.

Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated when they are washed with tainted water. When the water supply comes in contact with sewage or animal manure the contaminants are transferred to the food.

Salmonella infects the hen's ovary so that it produces what appears to be a normal egg but the egg itself was contaminated even before the shell was formed. It remains in the egg and can get transferred to the person who eats the egg unless it has been properly cooked.

Shellfish can easily pick up bacteria already present in the water. This is often the result of dumping raw sewage into the seawater the marine life inhabits.

Foodborne Illness Treatment:

To reduce your risk of developing food poisoning, it is important to know what causes foodborne illnesses and how are they treated. As you can see, there are many types of diseases that result from a contaminated food supply so you would think that the best course of treatment would vary.

On the contrary, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, there is only one effective way to treat foodborne illnesses. Since most symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, your best course of treatment is to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration and wait for the body's immune system to kick in and purge the contaminants from the system.

Since medications, even mild over-the-counter treatments, have the potential of prolonging the sickness, it is best to speak with your doctor or pharmacists about which ones would work for your type of food poisoning. In extreme cases, hospitalization may be required to prevent deteriorating symptoms from leading to more permanent complications like paralysis, dehydration and hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS).

Once you know what causes foodborne illnesses and how are they treated, you will be able to handle most food poisoning issues. Still, this is a serious matter and requires great care, especially when the symptoms persist. Always err on the side of caution and seek medical help to treat the illness whenever possible.