Food Poisoning

Symptoms: 

Symptoms vary depending on the source of the infection. Common cases of food poisoning usually include the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Mild fever
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

Symptoms of potentially life threatening food poisoning occur when:

  • You cannot keep fluids down
  • Your diarrhea persists for more than three days
  • You have a fever higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • You are extremely thirsty and have a dry mouth
  • You pass little or no urine
  • You are unable to speak or see
Tests to diagnose: 

Your health care provider will look for signs of food poisoning. These may include pain in the stomach and signs your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should (dehydration).

Tests may be done on your stools or the food you have eaten to find out what type of germ is causing your symptoms. However, tests may not always find the cause of the diarrhea.

In more serious cases, your health care provider may order a sigmoidoscopy. A thin, hollow tube with a light on the end is placed in the anus to look for the source of bleeding or infection.

Treatment: 

Most of the time, you will recover in a couple of days. The goal is to make you feel better and make sure your body has the proper amount of fluids.

Getting enough fluids and learning what to eat will help keep you or your child comfortable. You may need to:

Manage the diarrhea
Control nausea and vomiting
Get plenty of rest

You can drink oral rehydration mixtures to replace fluids and minerals lost through vomiting and diarrhea.

Oral rehydration powder can be purchased from a pharmacy. Be sure to mix the powder in safe water.

You can make your own mixture by dissolving ½ teaspoonful each salt and baking soda and 4 tablespoonsful sugar in 4 ¼ cups (1 liter) water.

If you have diarrhea and are unable to drink or keep down fluids, you may need fluids given through a vein (by IV). This is may be more common in young children.

If you take diuretics, ask your health care provider if you need to stop taking the diuretic while you have diarrhea. Never stop or change medicines before talking to your doctor.