According to the Mayo Clinic there are more than 2,000 strains of salmonella bacteria, but only a dozen or so make people sick. Most often, salmonella poisoning results in gastroenteritis, a severe stomach illness.
Salmonella is most often contracted by eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs.
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Though the symptoms of salmonella poisoning are felt most acutely in the lower abdomen, nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of the infection.
Sometimes the discomfort is so severe that "you're almost more afraid that you're going to live," says Dr. William A. Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, Tenn.
Some infections, including those caused by E. coli, can cause bloody diarrhea. But while diarrhea is often a symptom of salmonella poisoning, it's generally not bloody.
The bowel's job is to move waste out of the body. If you're infected with salmonella, the bowel wants to eliminate the offending germs as quickly as possible. To accomplish that, muscle in the abdomen contract forcefully - and the result is cramps.
Dr. William A. Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, Tenn., says the cramps can be so severe that doctors sometimes suspect the patient might have appendicitis.
Though salmonella poisoning is generally not a severe illness, it can be fatal in certain people, including young children and the very old. One danger is that vomiting, along with diarrhea (another symptom of salmonella poisoning), can cause dangerous dehydration.
Hydration is key.
About 70 percent of people with salmonella poisoning experience fever. It generally doesn't go super-high - typically no worse than 102 degrees, says Dr. Schaffner.
Chills often go hand in hand with fever. If you feel chilly, doctors recommend a simple treatment: put a couple of extra blankets on the bed, and dive under them.
Headache is one possible sign of salmonella poisoning. It's usually induced by a fever, says Dr. Schaffner.
Muscle pains can strike with salmonella poisoning, although Dr. William Schaffner says they are less common than some other symptoms. If pains do come on, they will usually be in the abdomen and less frequently in the thighs and arms.
Blood in the Stool
Blood in the stool can certainly be disconcerting, but Dr. William Schaffner says luckily it's very rare with salmonella poisoning.
What to Do?
If you think you might have salmonella poisoning, consult your doctor.
The illness typically runs its course within a matter of days even without treatment, though doctors urge patients to drink plenty of fluids to prevent the dehydration that sometimes results from vomiting and diarrhea.