Can Severe Food Poisoning Cause Type I Diabetes?

Although many people wonder if severe food poisoning can cause type I diabetes, the answer is a resounding “no.” In fact, the question is not so much whether the food actually causes the disease, but rather the delayed immune response that results from it. As a result, food borne pathogens can hang out in the digestive tract for a long time. In addition, elevated glucose levels in the blood decrease the function of white blood cells, which help the body fight infection.

People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to food poisoning, particularly those who are older. Moreover, a person’s immune system is not as powerful as it was in his or her younger years, so their bodies do not respond as rapidly. Young children and pregnant women have underdeveloped immune systems and are at greater risk for severe food poisoning. Those with chronic disease, such as diabetes, may have a delayed immune response, making it more difficult to recognize contaminated food and a higher risk of developing the disease.

In addition to the gastrointestinal complications of food poisoning, there is also a risk for dehydration. This occurs when the body fails to absorb water and salt from the food ingested. Dehydration may be mild in healthy adults, but it can quickly turn into a serious problem. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization. Severe dehydration may even lead to death.