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How To Recognize And Treat Food Poisoning

How To Recognize And Treat Food Poisoning

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Food poisoning in an everyday situation is bad enough but at least you have access to hospitals if you need medical treatment. In a post SHTF situation, it can be deadly.

Recognizing the symptoms can be crucial too, because a case of food poisoning may present similarly to other, contagious diseases such as the flu or malaria that would cause you to isolate the person or forbid them entry into your home, compound, etc.

The first thing that you should probably know is the different types of food poisoning, because if you know the types, you know how to avoid contracting (or causing) food poisoning. Here we go.

Norovirus

Norovirus is the most common cause of food poisoning; as a matter of fact, it accounts for over half the cases reported annually. Typically, Norovirus is contacted due to poor hygiene and improper food handling. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, chills, headache, low-grade fever, muscle aches and fatigue.

It’s rare for Norovirus to be severe enough to cause death, but it could happen. Also, care must be taken with hygiene because the Norovirus because it IS contagious through contact with bodily fluids.

The only real treatment for it is maintaining hydration while waiting it out. Symptoms should subside within a couple of days or sooner.

To avoid contracting it (or spreading it) wash your hands and all cooking areas and prep tools thoroughly. If somebody has it, clean everything that they come into contact with thoroughly or discard it in a hygienic manner. Somebody who’s had Norovirus shouldn’t prepare food for others for at least 2-3 days after symptoms go away.

Norovirus survives extremes in temperature so you have to kill it chemically. Bleach is a good bet. Wash your fruits and veggies thoroughly and cook all shellfish before you eat them. Don’t eat or drink after people and avoid handshaking. If you do, don’t touch your face before you wash your hands.

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Botulism

The next on our list of fabulous things not to get is botulism. Caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, this type of food poisoning is rare but extremely serious. The botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous biological substances known to man.

It’s a neurotoxin that causes central nervous system impairment. Botulism is most frequently contracted from improperly prepared or damaged canned goods, whether they’re home-canned or store-bought.

Symptoms include drooping eyelids, facial paralysis on one or both sides, muscle weakness, dry mouth, blurry vision, trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing or speaking, nausea, vomiting and paralysis.

In babies, you may see constipation, flopping around, a weak cry, drooling drooping eyelids, paralysis or difficulty sucking.

Treating botulism in a SHTF situation is going to suck because the only treatments are to induce vomiting and bowel movements in order to get the toxin out of the body as quickly as possible. Antibiotics aren’t recommended for foodborne botulism because it actually speeds up the release of the toxin. There is an anti-toxin, but that’s only available at the hospital.

The best way to deal with botulism is to avoid it. Don’t eat canned goods, especially low-acid produce, meats and fish that you even suspect may be bad, or that are stored in a jar or can that’s been damaged or isn’t sealed properly.

E Coli

This is another bad boy in the food poisoning category. Avoid it at all costs because it sucks. It’s caused by exposure to contaminated products including meat (usually hamburger), unpasteurized milk or juice, soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, or alfalfa sprouts. It can also be contracted via contaminated water or by coming into contact with contaminated animals.

There are a couple of reasons that e Coli is bad. First, even if you have the lesser strain, symptoms can last 5-10 days. Symptoms include severe diarrhea that is frequently bloody, vomiting and severe abdominal pain. The other, more critical reason, to avoid e Coli is the risk of HUS, or hemolytic uremic syndrome which is an infection that releases a toxin that can damage red blood cells, thus causing kidney injury. This is rare, though and will manifest after the first week if it’s going to. Symptoms will include facial pallor, decreased urination and dark, tea-colored urine. There’s really nothing you can do to treat HUS at home.

Treat e Coli by remaining hydrated and resting. Do not take antibiotics for e Coli.

E Coli can be spread from person to person by contact with contaminated feces so, again, hygiene is imperative.

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Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria that affects the intestinal tract and is found in the intestinal tract of poultry and seafood. It’s caused by eating undercooked contaminated meat, seafood or eggs. The food is contaminated by coming into contact with the feces of the infected animal. Fruits and vegetables treated with fertilizer made from the feces of infected animals can carry the bacteria, too.

Contamination can also occur if you don’t keep your work surfaces and utensils/tools clean. If you cut bread with a knife that you cut contaminated chicken with, your bread is now contaminated. Wash your counters, cutting boards and tools with an antibacterial such as a product with bleach.

This can be spread by people infected with salmonella by coming into contact with their feces.

The good thing about salmonella is that it’s easy to kill by cooking the product thoroughly. Wash all of your produce well before eating it and don’t think that just because an egg is clean with no apparent breaks in the shell that it’s safe; some chickens can spread salmonella to the egg before the shell forms. To sum it up, cook poultry, eggs and seafood well and wash your produce.

Symptoms of salmonella will show up anywhere from several hours to two days after contact. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache, chills and bloody stool. Symptoms typically last four to seven days but it can take several months for your bowels to get back to normal.

Treatment includes maintaining hydration, taking anti-diarrheals and antibiotics. Antibiotics are typically only used when the bacteria has spread to your bloodstream, which isn’t typical.

As you can see, the common thread here is hygiene and proper cooking methods. The best way to avoid food poisoning is to wash your hands, make sure that all of your food is properly prepared and fully cooked, and take precautionary measures when treating a person with food poisoning as all types are contagious if you come into contact with certain bodily fluids; typically feces. In a post-SHTF situation, some of these illnesses can be lethal so the best cure is prevention.

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How to Treat 4 Types of Gunshot Wounds (From One Shot?)

A paramedic told me that when she was in TRAINING, a patient came in who had been shot in the right upper chest. They ended up finding the bullet not in the back, not even in the other side of the chest, but way down in the right butt cheek, pushing against the skin.

In my last post, I covered general gunshot-wound treatment—the basics for survival situations when you can’t get to a doctor. Now, I’ll go into more detail for specific wounds.

 

As I said in the first post, one bullet can cause multiple injuries—both internal and external. Even if you can’t get expert treatment right away, you need to get it as soon as you can. There are some lifesaving things I don’t cover here that you just can’t do outside a hospital.
Signs of Internal Bleeding

Since you can’t see all the bleeding, it’s important to note the initial vital signs. Warning signs of internal bleeding include:

  • Decreasing alertness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Weak pulse
  • Lowering blood pressure, or faster and faster pulse.

Important Note

These treatments for gunshot wounds are complicated and require advanced knowledge. I can’t cover everything in a blog post. (I’ll be writing about gunshot wounds in a future book.)

I’ve tried to give you a good OVERVIEW so you have the best chance to save a life, but as always, my blog isn’t meant to be YOUR sole source of information.

Someone with internal bleeding is probably not going to survive without rapid transfer to a medical facility.
For a Gunshot Wound in the Head
Think about: the airway.

Tips:

  1. Attempt to control the bleeding with direct pressure as best you can (no tourniquets around the neck).
  2. Make sure the blood doesn’t choke the person. You can have a conscious person sit up and lean forward, or turn an unconscious person on their side and bend the top knee forward to keep them that way.
  3. If you believe a carotid artery (that large artery on either side of the neck that supplies the brain) is nicked, you can APPLY soft direct pressure, and include an occlusive dressing. (See the box to the right.)

How to Make an Occlusive Dressing out of a Driver’s License

For an OPEN, or “sucking,” chest wound, you want to keep air from getting in but also let excess air escape.

One makeshift way to do this is to lay a driver’s license or plastic wrap on the wound. When the diaphragm contracts and pulls in air (the same mechanism that makes us breathe), the vaccuum will suck the object onto the wound. But if air needs to escape, it can easily push the object up.

You could also use Vaseline gauze or put petroleum jelly on gauze. No petroleum jelly? Try any type of ointment or even honey.

The victim needs other treatment, such as a chest tube, right away. The occlusive dressing is just a temporary treatment to keep the situation from getting worse.

Learn how to treat other wounds when there is no doctor in The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds.
For a Gunshot Wound in the Chest
Think about: air sucking, spine injury.

Tips:

  1. Open chest wounds are also nicknamed sucking chest wounds because they suck air in and can lead to a collapsed lung. You can help stop the sucking by closing the open wound with an occlusive dressing.
  2. Remember the spine is also included in the back of the chest. Be very careful about movement of these victims. You want to keep them as still as possible and not damage the spinal cord.
  3. If the heart, the lungs, the spine, or a large blood vessel is damaged, there’s not much you can do outside getting immediate expert medical care.

For a Gunshot Wound in the Abdomen
Think about: organ protection.

Tips:

  1. If the wound is open and you can see the intestines, find a moist, sterile dressing to place on top of the wound (to protect the organs).
  2. If the intestines are ripped open, the victim needs immediate medical care. If they don’t bleed to death, they’ll likely die of the coming severe infection.
  3. The victim should take nothing at all by mouth until the pain lets up, and then wait a day or two. This is obviously a difficult situation, but this STEP is very important and a time when a slow drip of IV fluids would be useful.

If an arm wound won’t stop bleeding despite direct pressure to the wound and elevation, press on the brachial artery around the place where the arrow in the left picture is pointing (below the armpit). Do this by grabbing underneath the person’s arm, wrapping YOUR fingers to the artery (inner arm), and pressing firmly on it with your fingers. You’ll know you probably have it right when the bleeding slows down. If it’s still not controlled, try pressure nearer to the heart.

Here’s a trick to try it out now: Get a partner, and find the person’s radial pulse (in the wrist on the thumb side). Then grab the upper arm as described above. You should feel the pulse stop. Only do this for a couple of seconds, of course, since you’re stopping blood flow.

For a leg wound that won’t stop bleeding, APPLY pressure to the femoral artery, shown in the picture on the right. The best place to do this is in the middle of the bend between the front of leg and the hip. (This is not the place where the arrow is pointing; it’s above it.)

For a Gunshot Wound in the Arms or Legs
Think about: bones.

Tips:

  1. Direct pressure, elevation, pressure bandage—in that ORDER. Elevate the wound above the heart, and apply a pressure bandage. Then if it’s still bleeding, take your fingers and apply pressure to the brachial artery for the arm or the femoral artery for the leg. (See the box to the right.)
  2. If all else fails in an extremity, go to a tourniquet. (It may come down to “lose a limb or lose a life.” See The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds for dos and don’ts of tourniquet use.)
  3. If the area is rapidly swelling, that’s a sign of internal bleeding. Also, consider that a bone might have been injured, even shattered. If you suspect this, the area needs to be splinted.

For a Superficial Wound

If the gunshot wound is superficial, clean it as much as you can and follow the STEPS in “Puncture Wounds” in my e-book The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds. Start antibiotics when you’re finished taking care of the wounds.

One More Thing: What About the Bullet?

In most circumstances, you don’t want to remove an implanted bullet. It’s almost impossible to find, and it may actually be corking up a big blood vessel.

Thousands of military members live daily with shrapnel in their bodies. Unless there’s initial infection from the wound itself, the body adapts to most metal without much serious problem.

Gunshot wounds can run the gamut. Some people are too severely injured to save. Get expert treatment as soon as possible.