Food Poisoning - Prognosis

Except for botulism, most cases of food poisoning clear up on their own within a week without medical assistance. The patient may continue to feel tired for a few days after the symptoms disappear. As long as a person does not become dehydrated, there are usually no long-term symptoms. Deaths are rare. They tend to occur in the very young, the very old, and people with weakened immune systems.

Long-term effects are somewhat more common with Salmonella. Arthritis-like symptoms may occur three to four weeks after the original infection. Death from Salmonella is rare, but not unheard of. Most of these deaths have occurred among elderly people living in nursing homes.

Food poisoning caused by E. coli can also be serious, but usually in children rather than adults. The bacterium can attack platelets and red blood cells. Platelets are needed to make blood clot. In about 5 percent of the people infected with E. coli, this problem is so serious that their kidneys begin to fail. Kidney dialysis may be necessary. Kidney dialysis is a procedure in which a machine does the kidney's job of filtering out the body's waste products.

Botulism is the deadliest form of food poisoning. With prompt medical care, prognosis is good. Less than 10 percent of patients die. Without medical care, however, prognosis is very poor. The rate of death is very high.

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