What Is Salmonella?

February 1, 2024

What is Salmonella?

Have you ever gone out to lunch with friends and later that night you suddenly began to feel terrible with severe stomach cramps and a splitting headache? If so, you may have contracted salmonella which is a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract.

Continue reading for basic information about salmonella and how our team at AFC Urgent Care Tyvola Road can help.

What Causes Salmonella?

Salmonella is an intestinal infection that is passed to humans. Typically, salmonella is contracted through eating contaminated foods or by drinking contaminated water, though, contracting it through contaminated water is less of an issue in the United States than in other countries. The most common form that leads to human infection is carried by chickens, cows, pigs, and reptiles. Even if you do not touch an animal that is infected with salmonella, you can still become infected through interaction with its environment. You can also get salmonella by eating undercooked or raw meat, from ingesting unpasteurized milk products, or through eating raw and undercooked eggs.  You should always use a thermometer when cooking meat to make sure it reaches the recommended temperature for food safety. We know it can be so tempting to eat leftover dough containing raw egg from a spoon, but it might be best to skip it.

Fruits and vegetables can also carry the salmonella virus if they have been fertilized with or have encountered animal manure. Be sure to wash them thoroughly before eating, even if you plan to cook them.

Symptoms of a Salmonella Infection

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache

You can get salmonella from an infected person, so take whatever precautions you can when around those who are sick. If you contract salmonella you can expect to experience symptoms in as few as six hours or up to as many as six days later. Salmonella shares many of the same symptoms as other common stomach bugs, which makes telling the difference a challenge. Even after symptoms have resolved, the bacteria can be spread for several days to several weeks following infection.

When Will a Salmonella Infection Go Away?

The good news is that most salmonella infections clear up on their own within four to seven days. Diarrhea is one of the main symptoms, so be sure to drink a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration which can occur very quickly. The only way to know for sure if you have salmonella is through lab testing performed by your doctor.

Risk Factors for Salmonella

  • Babies or very young
  • Living with sickle cell disease
  • Without a functioning spleen
  • Taking drugs that affect the immune system or have a compromised immune system
  • Taking cancer-fighting drugs
  • Taking chronic stomach acid suppression medicine
  • Over the age of 65

Monitor any potential salmonella symptoms and be cautious around those at higher risk of infection. Get plenty of rest to help your body recover. Be aware of how you are feeling and seek medical care if needed.

When to See a Doctor

  • Symptoms last more than a few days
  • You experience bloody stools
  • You have a high-grade fever of 102 degrees or higher that won’t go away
  • You are severely dehydrated

Aside from careful food handling, washing produce, and properly washing utensils, regular and thorough hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid contracting salmonella.

Stomach issues can be frustrating. Visit us at AFC Urgent Care Tyvola Road for a diagnosis.

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