New Health Guide

Ways to Treat and Prevent Salmonella Infection

Dec 12, 2017

Salmonella infection, also referred to as salmonellosis, is a commonly occurring disease caused by bacteria that affects your digestive tract. The bacteria causing salmonella infection live in the intestines of humans and animals and are present in feces. Humans are infected most often via contaminated food or water. Most cases of salmonella infections are classified as gastroenteritis, food poisoning or stomach flu. The symptoms start within 2 to 48 hours after eating contaminated food and can last for up to 7 days.

How to Identify Salmonella Infection

In order to know how to treat Salmonella, you should know if you really have it.The risk of getting salmonella infection increases in individuals who travel to countries which have poor sanitation. The majority of people get better within a week without any specific treatment; however, complications may occur in rare cases.

Salmonella infection is most commonly caused by consuming undercooked or raw poultry, meat, contaminated egg products or eggs. The incubation period is between a few hours and two days after which the symptoms start. The common signs and symptoms of salmonella include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Cramps in abdomen
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Presence of blood in stool
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Cold sweats
  • Head cold

If the symptoms are not getting better and the individual having them belong to a high risk group (persons with weak immune systems such as people suffering from AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease or sickle cell disease and people who have received organ transplants, young children, infants, pregnant females and elderly), it is recommended to visit a physician as early as possible.

How to Treat Salmonella

The physician will make assessment of your signs and symptoms and in majority of the cases will recommend intake of lots of fluids and rest till the symptoms subside. If the physician thinks that a test is needed, then they will do a stool test to determine the presence of salmonella. The physician may also do a blood test to test the presence of bacteria in the blood sample.

Drink lots of fluids, particularly water: You may develop dehydration as you are losing fluids through diarrhea and vomiting. Hence, it becomes imperative to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes by consuming plenty of water, juices, broth and herbal tea. You can try and eat popsicles, ice chips or sorbet to get both sugar and water into your body. Drink lots of water particularly post severe episodes of diarrhea or vomiting. If your child is suffering from salmonella infection, you can make them drink Pedialyte, which is a rehydration solution, to restore lost electrolytes and fluids.

Warning signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry tongue and mouth
  • Decreased production of tears
  • Reduced urinary output
  • Sunken eyes

How to treat salmonella? Your physician may recommend:

1. Take appropriate rest: Take adequate amount of rest and give the body ample time to recover and heal itself. Recovery from salmonella infection will be faster if you do not place undue stress on your body. Taking a few days of vacation from your office or work place while you are experiencing symptoms is a good idea.

2. Eat bland foods: When you are recovering from a salmonella infection, avoid eating spicy or salty food as such foods can worsen your symptoms. Instead you should eat bland foods such as bananas, crackers etc. You should also avoid fried and fatty foods, which may irritate your digestive tract.

3. Anti-diarrheal: Medicines such as Imodium A-D (loperamide) may help in relieving the cramping pain associated with salmonella infection; however, they may prolong the symptoms of diarrhea.

4. Antibiotics: The physician may prescribe necessary antibiotics in case the infection has spread outside the intestines, if you have developed a severe infection of salmonella, if your immune system is compromised and in infants and the elderly. If you have been prescribed antibiotics make sure that you finish it and consume it exactly as prescribed.

However, antibiotics may not prove beneficial if your case is an uncomplicated one. In fact, they may actually prolong the time for which you have the bacteria in your system and may infect others. They also increase your chances of relapse.

In children suffering from salmonella, the doctor may give them acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve the fever associated with the infection.

5. Use a warm compress: How to treat salmonella? Use a warm compress or a heat pad on you abdominal area to relieve any abdominal cramps you are having. A hot shower, hot bath or hot bottle of water can also work.

6. Watch out for Bacteremia: If the bacteria causing salmonella enter your blood, the tissues in your whole body may get infected, including:

  • Tissues surrounding spinal cord and brain causing meningitis
  • Lining of the heart and valves of the heart causing endocarditis
  • Bones and bone marrow causing osteomyelitis
  • Lining of the blood vessels, particularly if you have a vascular graft

The signs and symptoms of bacteremia include sudden high temperature, rapid heart rate and chills.

What Is the Prognosis of Salmonella?

The prognosis is very good as it is a disease that gets better on its own in the majority of the patients. Even patients whose immune system is compromised do well if salmonella infection is diagnosed in time and treated promptly. Complications only occur in patients who become dehydrated or in case the disease is caused by drug-resistant or aggressive strains of bacteria.

How to Prevent Salmonella Infection

A Salmonella Action Plan has been created by the Department of Agriculture that involves updating of poultry slaughter inspection systems and enhancing testing and sampling programs for meat and poultry. The aim of the plan is to reduce salmonella infections occurring in the USA.

You may also prevent the spread of bacteria to other people. Prevention is particularly important while preparing meals or providing care to the elderly, infants or persons who have weak immune systems. Make sure to cook your food thoroughly. Moreover, freeze or refrigerate food promptly. Make sure to wash all vegetables before you cook them.

1. Wash your hands

Washing hands thoroughly may prevent the bacteria present on your hands to transfer to any meals you are cooking or to the mouth. Wash hands after:

  • Using toilet
  • Changing diaper
  • Handling raw poultry or meat
  • Cleaning feces of pets
  • Touching birds or reptiles

2. Keep things separately

To prevent the occurrence of cross-contamination:

  • Always store raw poultry, seafood and meat separate from other things in a refrigerator.
  • Use two separate cutting boards-one for cutting raw meat and other for cutting vegetables and fruits.
  • Never put cooked food on a plate that previously had raw meat before washing.

3. Don’t eat raw eggs

Eggnog, ice cream that is made at home and cookie dough all have raw eggs. If you have to eat raw eggs, ensure that they are pasteurized.

4. Don’t allow your children to cuddle or handle young birds and reptiles

Young birds and reptiles, for example, baby chicks and turtles carry salmonella bacteria in their faces. Hence, a child who cuddles any of these animals may get exposed to salmonella and get infected. Therefore, it’s in your child’s best interest to forbid them from getting too close to these animals that could infect them.

How to treat salmonella? Now you know all about it.