Food Poisoning

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Food Poisoning Dangers Slideshow

Quick GuideFood Poisoning Pictures Slideshow: 20 Common and Uncommon Types, Signs and Symptoms

Food Poisoning Pictures Slideshow: 20 Common and Uncommon Types, Signs and Symptoms

What is the treatment for food poisoning?

Maintaining good hydration is the first priority when treating food poisoning. Hospitalization may be appropriate if the patient is dehydrated or if they have other underlying medical conditions that become unstable because of the fluid or electrolyte imbalance in their body.

Medications may be prescribed to help control nausea and vomiting.

Medications to decrease the frequency of diarrhea may be indicated, but if food poisoning is suspected, it is best to consult a health-careprofessional before taking OTC (over-the-counter) medications such as loperamide (Imodium), because it may cause increased problems for the patient.

Except for specific infections, antibiotics are not prescribed in the treatment of most food poisoning. Often, the health-careprofessional will decide upon their use based on multiple factors such as the intensity of the disease symptoms, the additional health factors of the patient, a serious response to infection (sepsis), and organ system compromise. For example, a pregnant woman suspected of having listeriosis will likely be treated with IV antibiotics because of the effect of the infection on the fetus.

Complications of certain types of food poisoning are best treated in consultation with infectious disease specialists (for example, HUS, TTP, bovine spongiform encephalopathy).

Are there any home remedies for food poisoning?

The key to home care is being able to keep the affected person hydrated. Oral rehydration therapy with water or a balanced electrolyte solution such as Gatorade or Pedialyte is usually adequate to replenish the body with fluids. A person can lose a significant amount of fluid with each diarrheal bowel movement, and that fluid has to be replaced to rehydrate. People who show any signs of dehydration such as decreased urination, dizziness, or dry mucous membranes, especially in the young or elderly, should see a health-care professional.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2015

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