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Food Poisoning Diagnosis

Food Poisoning Diagnosis
Food Poisoning
Causes and Risk Factors

Food poisoning is an especially problematic medical condition, as often the cause cannot be identified. A primary care doctor may suggest an additional diagnosis from an infectious disease specialist.

Medical history
To diagnose food poisoning, your doctor will first ask about the symptoms that you experience and will need detailed information about the foods you have eaten within the last few days before symptoms began. It’s important to prepare a record of consumption before you visit the doctor, and to know if other people ate the same foods or are showing any symptoms. To gather enough good information to make a diagnosis, a doctor may ask the following:

  • Are you seeing blood in the bowel movements?
  • Do you feel feverish?
  • Has anyone else close to you experienced the same symptoms? Did you both eat the same food?
  • Have symptoms been ongoing, or off/on?
  • Have you had antibiotics within days or weeks of symptoms?
  • Have you visited places with questionable food or water safety?
  • How severe are symptoms?
  • What seems to help symptoms?
  • What seems to worsen symptoms?
  • When did the symptoms first appear

Medical exams
Along with the answers provided during a medical history, the doctor can add information obtained through further testing, to more accurately diagnose the type of food poisoning. To confirm a diagnosis and determine which type of bacteria may be the cause of symptoms, your doctor will ask for a stool sample (bowel movement), which will be tested in a laboratory. S/He may also order blood tests. If the contaminated food is available, it, too, will be tested. Information gathered during the diagnostic process may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Health history
  • Laboratory testing of feces/stool culture
  • Laboratory testing of suspect food, if available
  • Laboratory testing of vomit, if available
  • Physical exam

Additional tests
In cases of food poisoning, standard tests are not always conclusive. If the doctor suspects a potentially serious case, s/he may order specific tests:

Electromyography – This test specifically targets botulism cases. It measures the electrical impulses within the muscles to check for impairment brought on by this organism.

Lumbar puncture – Fluid drawn from the spine is examined for signs of nervous system disorders.

Sigmoidoscopy – A tool resembling a thin tube is threaded into the anus to identify sources of bleeding or infection

Proper diagnosis of food poisoning can help doctors direct treatment. However, there are a number of measures that you can take to prevent food poisoning at all. To learn more about common food poisoning treatments and treating food poisoning, continue reading here.

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Tags: food poisoning, food, lumbar puncture, add information, blood tests, infectious, treatments, diagnosis, infection, treatment, bacteria, symptoms, muscles, lumbar, add, ask the doctors, ask the doctor, ask a doctor, bacteria food, food treatment
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