Chained to the bathroom due to food poisoning? We can help
Did you know that people aged 65 and older are at a higher risk of contracting food poisoning? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that’s because as people age, their organs and immune systems become less effective at ridding the body of harmful bacteria and germs, which can lead to foodborne illness. And food poisoning is particularly rough in seniors—nearly half of people 65 and up who contract food poisoning from Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, or E. Coli are hospitalized. Long-term hospital stays can have adverse effects on seniors, so if your elderly loved one is struggling with foodborne illness, DispatchHealth can help. We offer convenient, in-home urgent care for seniors with non-life-threatening food poisoning, allowing them to receive the care they need in the comfort of their own homes.
If this is an emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Food poisoning symptoms & when to seek treatment
The symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the bacteria, virus, or parasite that caused the infection, but typical symptoms include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Abdominal cramps/pains
Signs of food poisoning can come on in as little as a few hours after ingesting contaminated food or show as long as days to weeks later. Illness can similarly last just a few hours or cause discomfort for many days.
Symptoms of food poisoning range in severity—some seniors recover just fine at home with mild symptoms—but if your elderly loved one is experiencing any of the follow symptoms, it’s time to seek medical treatment:
- Excessive vomiting
- An inability to keep food and/or liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, including little to no urination, dry mouth, excessive thirst, weakness, and lightheadedness
- Diarrhea that lasts more than three days
- Bloody vomit or stool
- A fever higher than 100.4 F
- Severe abdominal pain and/or cramping
- Neurological symptoms, including muscle weakness, blurred vision, and tingling arms
What causes food poisoning in seniors?
Food poisoning is caused by ingesting food that’s been contaminated by a virus, parasite, or bacteria. Some of the most common contaminants include E. Coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, and Norovirus, among others. And food can become contaminated at many points along its journey from farm or factory to table—whether it be during growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, storing, or finally preparing the food to eat.
A few examples of ways in which food can become contaminated include:
- Improper meat/poultry packaging
- Home canning that’s not done properly
- Being left out on the counter for too long
- Undercooking meat or poultry
- Coming into contact with contaminated water
How to prevent food poisoning in seniors
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help your elderly loved one prevent getting food poisoning:
- Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate. When shopping and cooking, keep meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish separate from vegetables and other ready-to-eat foods in order to prevent cross contamination.
- Cook foods thoroughly by gauging safe temperatures. If your elderly loved one’s kitchen isn’t already stocked with a food thermometer, getting them one should be a priority. You could also consider hanging a food-safe temperature chart somewhere easily visible in the kitchen.
- Refrigerate and defrost properly. Make sure to put food in the fridge within an hour of purchasing or preparing it; don’t leave it out on the counter for too long. Likewise, frozen food should be defrosted in the fridge—not on the counter—to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
If left untreated
If left untreated, food poisoning can lead to severe dehydration in seniors, which can lead to urinary tract problems and issues with the kidneys. Older adults, in particular, are also at higher risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, an illness derived from E. coli which damages the lining in the kidney’s blood vessels. This can ultimately lead to kidney failure, making it more important than ever to keep your elderly loved one safe from foodborne illness.
If your elderly loved one is sick with food poisoning, you don’t have to go it alone. Attempting to get them to the urgent care center or emergency room can be next to impossible when they’re experiencing food poisoning symptoms and weak with dehydration. DispatchHealth is here to help. We can treat food poisoning in seniors from the comfort of their own homes, helping them recover faster and without a trip to the ER. We accept most major forms of health insurance—including Medicare and Medicaid—and offer an affordable flat rate for uninsured patients. We’ll be sure to send a detailed report to your elderly loved one’s primary care physician after our visit, and we can send any necessary prescriptions to their pharmacy, as well.
Turn to DispatchHealth if your elderly loved one needs treatment for food poisoning. Contact us via a phone call, our app, or on our website to receive care at their doorstep within just a couple of hours.