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Food poisoning (Treatment)

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What is the treatment of food poisoning?

Treatment for food poisoning is usually supportive and depends on the type and severity of symptoms and presence of any complications.

In most of the people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days. Sometimes the symptoms may last longer and less often it may complicate especially in high risk groups.

Treatment of food poisoning may include:

Maintaining adequate water content and salts

Maintaining adequate water content and salts like sodium, potassium and calcium in the body which are lost due to diarrhea and or vomiting. In mild cases it can be done by drinking good amount of water, natural fluids rich in electrolytes or salts like coconut water etc or using oral rehydration solutions available in markets or prepared at home. In severe cases especially in children and older adults hospitalization is usually needed, where the doctors replenish salts and fluids by instilling fluids and salts by putting a needle into a vein (IV line).



Antibiotics are not usually needed or recommended but may be used for some types of foodborne illness or when symptoms are severe. Food poisoning caused by listeria requires intravenous antibiotics with hospitalization.

During pregnancy, prompt antibiotic treatment may help keep the infection from affecting the baby. Antibiotics usually doesn’t help food poisoning caused by viruses. Antibiotics may sometimes worsen symptoms in certain kinds of viral or bacterial food poisoning.

Adults with diarrhea which is not bloody and who have no fever may get relief from taking the medication loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate. Consult with a doctor about the use of these medicines.

The associated symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and fever may be given symptomatic treatment.

Lifestyle changes and home remedies

As we know that food poisoning usually resolves without a treatment within a few days. A person can use some of home remedies to ease out symptoms and to prevent dehydration:

• Giving rest to stomach and intestines: giving a break to eating and drinking for few hours.

• Drinking small sips of water or chewing on ice.

• Drinking clear soda or non caffeinated sports drinks with electrolytes.

• Gradually coming back to regular diet: might begin from eating bland, low-fat, easy-to-digest foods like, khicdi, toast, gelatin, bananas and rice.

• Avoiding certain foods and substances: is recommend until person starts to feel better. These may include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.

• Rest: the recover from weakness and improve immunity.

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How to prevent yourself and people around you from food poisoning?

Food poisoning is especially serious and potentially life-threatening for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. To prevent food poisoning following should be done:

• Washing hands after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, touching animals, or touching trash or any other dirty items.

• Washing hands well before and after handling food or preparing food.

• Properly washing utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces.


• Keeping raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods to prevents cross contamination. eg: raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish.

• Keeping perishable foods in the fridge within 2 hours of purchasing or preparing them. When the room temperature is above 90 F (32.2 C), refrigerate within 1 hour.

• Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk or foods made with it

• Washing fruits and vegetables well before eating them

• Keeping the refrigerator colder than 40°F (4.4°C) and the freezer below 0°F (-18°C)

• Cooking meat and seafood until well done

• Cooking eggs until the yolk is firm

• Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources to a safe internal temperature which is best checked by using a food thermometer: ground beef 160°F (71°C); chicken 165°F (77°C); turkey 165°F (82°C); pork 145°F (71°C). Make sure fish and shellfish are cooked thoroughly.

• Defrost food safely. Don’t thaw food at room temperature. The safest way to thaw food is to defrost it in the refrigerator. If you microwave frozen food using the “defrost” or “50 percent power” setting, be sure to cook it immediately.

• Throw it out when in doubt. If you aren’t sure if a food has been prepared, served or stored safely, discard it. Food left at room temperature too long may contain bacteria or toxins that can’t be destroyed by cooking. Don’t taste food that you’re unsure about — just throw it out. Even if it looks and smells fine, it may not be safe to eat.

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