• NurseMike

Thanksgiving Strikes Back

One of the biggest reasons I see people in the Emergency Room on Thanksgiving is due to abdominal pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The number one culprit? I bet you guessed it; food poisoning.

According to the CDC, they estimate approximately 48 million people hit the doors of the ER each year for food poisoning, with approximately 128,000 being admitted. They also indicate that approximately 3000 people actually DIE from it. WHOA!

So, before you go back for another round of that turkey and dressing I hope I have your attention. There are quite a number of causes of foodborne illnesses. These include bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins and even chemicals. However, the number one cause of ER visits on Thanksgiving attributed to food poisoning is due to eating food that's been undercooked or left out for just a bit too long.

The CDC lists the top culprits to be:



-Clostridium perfringens


-Staphylococcus aureus

Out of these listed above, when it comes to Thanksgiving Day turkey, Salmonella is a top defender. 1,000,000 Americans will suffer from Salmonella-related food poisoning.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning can include mild to moderate abdominal pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and maybe even a fever. Most times, these are self-limiting, meaning they will go away within a few days. However, sometimes the diarrhea can get so bad that you may need to be hospitalized for fluid resuscitation.

I don't know about you, but sitting at home throwing up for a couple days is too much for me. If you feel the same way, I'd suggest a trip to the ER. Here's a little tip. If you live near a Freestanding ER (Not an urgent care), they are usually a better option. They most always can get you right back and get your nausea and vomiting under control pretty quickly.

Here's what you can expect. Once they get you back, they'll start an IV, draw blood and begin giving you fluids. They will also give you an antiemetic, like Zofran. You'll probably end up staying for an hour or two, then be on your way.

*Something I feel I should mention. The vomiting and diarrhea is your body's natural response to ridding itself of an invading pathogen. Attempting to stop the diarrhea with an anti-diarrheal may not be the best idea unless it is REALLY bad.

Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning

The USDA offers a few suggestions to keep the bugs at bay. They are as follows:

-First and foremost, using a food thermometer, cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

-Keep food out of the Danger Zone. That is when the temperature of food is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, bacteria start to grow.

-Food that has been left out for 2 hours at room temperature should be thrown out. If it is left sitting out in temperatures of 90 degrees or greater then it should be thrown out after only 1 hour.

-Make sure if you are going to save food, cool it down quickly. You may have to separate it out into smaller portion sizes to do so. Get it down below 40 degrees as quick as you can. That way when you go to reheat it later, the risk won't be so high.

There you have it. Heed my warning friends! I hope you've had a very Happy Thanksgiving surrounded by all those you care most about. I also hope that you're not one of the millions who may be puking your guts out right about now.

Nurse Mike

#NurseBlog #Thanksgiving #Gastritis #AbdominalPain #FoodPoisoning #Salmonella #NurseMike

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