Food Poisoning From Fish

There is almost no place on earth where people do not enjoy eating fish in some form or another. Just about every culture enjoys fish and seafood is considered a delicacy among many. However, as with any food there is always the risk of getting food poisoning when eating fish. It is important to understand how food poisoning from fish occurs, as well as what can be done in terms of treatment. It is also very important to learn how to avoid and prevent food poisoning from fish from occurring. The following information is intended to provide you with some of the facts surrounding fish and food poisoning as a result of consumption.

What Is the Most Common Way to Get Food Poisoning From Fish?

There are actually two ways in which you can get food poisoning from consuming fish. The first is called ciguatera poisoning and generally occurs when a person eats any reef fish (any fish that lives in warm tropical waters) that has eaten some sort of poisonous food. The poison from what ever the fish ingested will not go away just because the fish is frozen or cooked. The second type of food poisoning which occurs from fish is called scombroid poisoning. This usually occurs when a person eats fish that has become too warm after being caught. This can cause histamine to build up in the fish. Histamine acts as a sort of alarm that allows your immune system to be made aware that there is some sort of foreign body or infection attacking a specific area of your body. For this reason, you may experience a reaction to eating a fish that was not cooled properly after it was caught.

What Are the Symptoms?

With ciguatera poisoning, the first symptoms normally include nausea, abdominal cramping, diarrhea and vomiting. If the food poisoning is left untreated, the symptoms can quickly progress to muscle aches, itchy skin, headaches and/or numbness or tingling in the extremities. A person suffering from this form of food poisoning from fish may also suffer from the inability to distinguish the difference between temperatures. For instance, you may not be able to tell if something is hot or cold. Symptoms of the second form of food poisoning called scombroid usually occur within about 30 min. after eating the affected fish. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, hives, flushing of the face and severe itching or swelling. These symptoms mimic that of an allergic reaction in many cases. However, just because a person gets scombroid poisoning, it does not necessarily mean they are allergic to the fish they have eaten.

What Is the Treatment?

There are different courses of treatment depending on the type of poisoning the person has developed. The type of treatment a person receives after acquiring food poisoning from fish will depend on the type of food poisoning he/she is suffering from. For example, with ciguatera poisoning there is no specific cure. However, many medications may be administered in order to help treat the symptoms associated with the illness. After time, the symptoms will dissipate and ultimately go away on their own. With scombroid poisoning an antihistamine such as Benadryl will be administered. An antihistamine is a drug which works by blocking the histamines present in your bloodstream. In both types of food poisoning from fish, the affected person almost always makes a full recovery and the occurrence of complications which could result in death is a rarity.

How Long Does a Person With Food Poisoning From Fish Stay Ill?

A person who has developed ciguatera poisoning can remain ill for up to two weeks. The amount of time they will stay stick will depend on exactly how much poison they may have been exposed to. It is most common with this type of food poisoning to see a reduction in symptoms in as little as one week. When it comes to scombroid poisoning, the affected person is usually only six for about 24 hours. Even after symptoms have gone, a person who has been extremely sick with food poisoning from fish, or any other food for that matter may experience fatigue, sore muscles and an over all sluggish feeling for several weeks thereafter. This is usually because his/her body has gone through such a major ordeal and this is perfectly normal. Again, it is important to emphasize that food poisoning caused by fish is rarely fatal. However, as with anything else complications can arise that have been unforeseen.

How to Avoid Food Poisoning From Fish

To prevent the occurrence of ciguatera poisoning is best to avoid the foods that commonly contain the poison. These fish include sturgeon, king mackerel, snapper, moray eel, amberjack, barracuda and grouper. In addition, the higher concentrate of the poison will be present in the fish’s internal organs, so no one should ever consume those particular parts of the fish. In order to avoid scombroid poisoning it is important to be conscious of the care the fish has received after being caught. Do not eat any fish but has not received proper refrigeration immediately after being caught. When eating fish like sardines, tuna, mahi-mahi, anchovies or mackerel, use extreme caution. As with any type of food poisoning, a little bit of common sense goes a long way. If something doesn’t smell right and doesn’t look right, chances are you should avoid it.

There is no reason to be afraid to eat fish. It is just important that you understand the different ways in which poisoning can occur, so that you can avoid food poisoning caused by fish. If you are seafood lover, you can go on enjoying your favorite seafood as long as you keep the above information in mind and use care in handling fish. When eating seafood restaurant, it is perfectly fine to ask questions about the way the fish is handled if you are not sure or have reason to believe there may be a problem.

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