Symptoms of Salmonella infection may include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, and joint pain. Symptoms usually appear within 12-72 hours after the ingestion of contaminated food. The illness usually lasts 4-7 days, and most people recover without treatment. Individuals with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to suffer severe illness.
Complications of Salmonella food poisoning may include severe diarrhea requiring hospitalization and rehydration with fluids. In severe cases, infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream (sepsis). Once in the blood stream, Salmonella can infect other body sites. This is a life threatening situation, requiring prompt treatment with antibiotics.
A small percentage of patients may develop a condition known as Reiter’s Syndrome, or “reactive arthritis.” Reiter’s Syndrome is characterized by joint pain, eye irritation (conjunctivitis), and painful urination. Symptoms may appear within 1-3 weeks following infection, and every symptom may not appear at the same time. While most joints can be affected, pain and inflammation are most commonly experienced in the fingers, toes, ankles, knees, and hips. Most people with Reiter’s Syndrome will recover within a year; however, this syndrome can lead to chronic arthritis.
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