Most of us are all too fa­mil­iar with the un­pleas­ant symp­toms of food poi­son­ing, from vom­it­ing to di­ar­rhoea and de­bil­i­tat­ing stom­ach cramps. Although viruses play a role, bac­te­ria are com­mon of­fend­ers, with Sal­mo­nella and Campy­lobac­ter top­ping the poi­sonin

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Q & A -

1. Bac­te­ria en­ter

Some bac­te­ria or en­tero­tox­ins (in­testi­nal tox­ins) can sur­vive harsh stom­ach con­di­tions, mak­ing their way to the gut. There, the mis­ery be­gins, some­times up to 72 hours after eat­ing the of­fend­ing meal.

4. Flooded in­testines

The in­testi­nal wall is de­signed to ab­sorb nu­tri­ents and wa­ter from food. Bac­te­rial tox­ins can cause pores to open in the wall, al­low­ing wa­ter and other mol­e­cules to flood in.

2. Bac­te­ria mul­ti­ply Un­de­tected by the body’s im­mune sys­tem, the bac­te­ria qui­etly mul­ti­ply, pro­duc­ing tox­ins. These in­vade and pen­e­trate the gut lin­ing, set­ting off a strong im­mune re­sponse.

5. Di­ar­rhoea and de­hy­dra­tion

The ex­cess fluid and elec­trolytes in the gut lead to watery di­ar­rhoea, which has a ben­e­fi­cial role of flush­ing out the bac­te­ria and their tox­ins. It can, how­ever, cause de­hy­dra­tion.

3. Im­mune re­sponse

Im­mune cells re­lease sig­nalling pro­teins called pro-in­flam­ma­tory cy­tokines, which set in mo­tion a se­ries of steps caus­ing gut in­flam­ma­tion and swelling, lead­ing to dis­com­fort.

6. Vom­it­ing

Some bac­te­ria don’t cause vom­it­ing, but Sta­phy­lo­coc­cus au­reus en­tero­tox­ins do. Re­search sug­gests that they may stim­u­late the va­gus nerve which trans­mits a sig­nal to the brain’s vom­it­ing cen­tre.

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