How Do I Know If I Have Salmonella?

February 1, 2024

When you get sick, it can be hard to know what you have picked up or from where. Many illnesses share the same basic symptoms, especially gastrointestinal conditions, or infections. If you are experiencing fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, you might have the stomach flu, or you may have contracted salmonella, one of the most common types of food poisoning.

Salmonella is a bacterium that infects the intestines. You might begin to feel sick within a few hours after exposure, or it may take up to several weeks for symptoms to appear. Salmonella is most often transmitted through exposure to infected animals of animal byproducts. The most common animals that carry the bacterium are cattle, pigs, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Fruit and vegetables that are fertilized or come into contact with fertilizer made from animal byproducts can also spread salmonella. Therefore, it is important to always wash your fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating, even if you plan to cook them.

Continue reading as our AFC Urgent Care Hixson team explains some basic facts about salmonella.

How Did I Contract Salmonella?

Salmonella can be contracted through several means. It can be contracted through close contact with someone who is infected, through eating undercooked meat or animal products, or by eating unpasteurized dairy products. Cows, pigs, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are the most common animals to be infected with the bacterium and exposure to their environment could cause you to be infected.

Proper hand hygiene and food preparation are important to protect you from accidental exposure to salmonella. Prepare raw meat only on plastic cutting boards that can be thoroughly cleaned between uses, and only prepare nonmeat items on clean surfaces without any raw meat or meat residue. Wash your hands continually, especially after handling any raw meat.

When seeking medical care for potential salmonella exposure, your doctor will ask you to recall what you have eaten over the previous days and whether anything was not fully cooked or if produce was eaten unwashed. Salmonella infection can only be confirmed by lab tests run by your doctor.

Salmonella Symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Will Salmonella make me feel sick for a Long Time?

Most people start to experience symptoms of salmonella between eight hours and three days after the initial exposure and will feel exhausted for several days. The good news is that most people will recover within a week without requiring further treatment.

While symptomatic, remember that you may still be contagious so avoid as much social interaction as possible. Eat bland foods that agree with your stomach and get as much rest as you can. Diarrhea can cause dehydration quickly, so it is important to stay well hydrated and continually sip on water while you are sick.

Symptoms That Should Prompt an AFC Visit

  • Symptoms lasting more than a few days
  • Bloody stools
  • A persistent high-grade fever of 102 degrees or higher
  • Severe dehydration

Stomach issues can be frustrating. See us at AFC Urgent Care Hixson for a diagnosis.

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