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Listeria is a type of infection that can cause severe symptoms to appear in affected individuals. People primarily contract this type of infection through certain foods, including unwashed vegetables. Only a small percentage of people with Listeria report symptoms. In such cases, symptoms can be severe, with vomiting and fever being just a few of the possible symptoms. When Listeria turns into an infection, it becomes listeriosis. There are different treatment options for this condition, including medication and home rest. Keep reading to find out the top ten symptoms of listeria.

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Diarrhea

One of the most common symptoms caused by Listeria is diarrhea. This symptom occurs in a large percentage of cases due to infection in the digestive system. Sometimes, the bacteria can spread further than the gut. Just like other foodborne germs, listeria can wreak havoc on the stomach, making liquid diets a necessity to treat the condition correctly. If you become infected and have symptoms, you may not be able to consume solid foods for a period of time. You should consult your doctor if you notice these symptoms.

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Fever

Listeria is more likely to affect particular groups of people, including pregnant women. Individuals who have weak immune systems are also more liable to develop an infection. If you are a pregnant woman, you will likely only experience a fever along with other flu-like symptoms, including fatigue and headache. Sometimes, muscle aches may be present. In extreme cases, getting infected during pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage or premature birth. Newborns may also become infected in a small number of cases.

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Headache

Among the most frequent symptoms reported by patients is a headache. Because listeria symptoms are flu-like in many cases, a headache can develop alongside other related symptoms including fever and vomiting. In most cases, the headache is mild to moderate, but it may also be severe in certain cases. If you are not pregnant, look out for symptoms such as confusion and loss of balance, which is also typically caused by listeria. If you experience any combination of these symptoms, contact your physician. Receiving medical attention is even more important if you are a pregnant woman, especially because the consequences for newborns can be severe.

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Stiff Neck

One of the most common symptoms of listeria is a stiff neck or muscles around the neck that appear stiff. While this isn’t the most common symptom, many people do experience muscle-related symptoms. If you do happen to have invasive listeria, symptoms usually appear 1 to 4 weeks after consuming contaminated food. In extreme and unusual cases, symptoms may appear as late as 70 days after exposure.

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Vomiting

If you consume foods infected with listeria, you may develop vomiting as a result of the infection. Not everyone experiences vomiting, and this symptom will usually appear in more severe cases. It’s good to know that in small doses, listeria usually doesn’t cause an infection, because the body can eliminate the infection-causing organisms. In a small number of cases, symptoms will develop, but will generally be moderate and resolve on their own. Rarely, listeria can cause life-threatening symptoms including sepsis.

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Muscle Pain

Among the most commonly reported symptoms of listeria is muscle pain. In most cases, muscle-related symptoms appear in the neck area, but they can also be observed in the face and other parts of the body. Moreover, large muscle groups can experience stiffness and pain. Pregnant women are especially prone to becoming infected due to their compromised immune system. Alongside muscle pain, you may also experience symptoms such as fatigue and headache. During pregnancy, pain is most commonly experienced during the third trimester. During these periods, immune system defenses are at their lowest.

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Sepsis

In some cases – representing only a small percentage of all patients – sepsis can develop as a result of the infection. Even though most patients do not report any symptoms, those who do may develop life-threatening symptoms. Newborns may also develop severe complications as a result of their mother’s condition. Luckily, in most cases, symptoms are only mild, and more dangerous symptoms are avoided altogether. To reduce your risk of consuming contaminated food, remember to rinse all fruits and vegetables before consumption.

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Convulsions

A potential sign of listeria is convulsions. Convulsions, as well as seizures, appear in around 25% of all listeria cases. Convulsions are one of the symptoms that affect the nervous system, which may result in involuntary movement. You'll find Listeria bacteria in a range of sources, including soil and water. Another possible source is animal feces, including dogs and cats. If you consume raw vegetables that haven’t been washed, you have a higher risk of developing listeria. Likewise, consuming contaminated animal meat may also increase the chance of infection. Even processed meats pose a small risk of infection due to possible contamination.

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Loss of Balance

Listeria patients can experience a broad range of symptoms, from those affecting the nervous system to those that affect the muscles. One of the most unpleasant symptoms is a loss of balance, which can make it difficult to walk. In severe cases, this symptom will limit movement considerably. If you have recently consumed food that has been known to contain listeria, make sure to look for any symptoms which may indicate listeria infection carefully. It’s worth mentioning that in many cases symptoms appear quite late, as much as 70 days after initial exposure. Take necessary precautions to reduce infection.

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Irritability

Listeria can cause irritability in certain patients. While usually subtle, a small number of patients will experience a high degree of irritability. If listeria effects a newborn, the symptoms experienced differ somewhat from adults. They include, for example, a lack of interest in feeding, as well as fever and vomiting. It may be difficult to determine if your symptoms are from listeria, so be on the lookout for other known symptoms. Contact your doctor if you suspect a possible infection.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.