Food Poisoning Health (cont.)

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Food Poisoning Diagnosis

If the person visits a doctor or a hospital emergency department because they think they may have food poisoning, a thorough examination will be performed, including measurements of blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, and temperature. The doctor will perform a physical exam, which screens for outward signs and symptoms of the illness. They will assess how dehydrated the patient is and examine the abdominal area to make sure the illness is not serious.

  • The doctor may need to do a rectal examination. The doctor performs this test by inserting a lubricated and gloved finger gently into the rectum. The purpose is to make sure there are no breaks in the rectal wall. A sample of stool is taken and tested for blood and mucus. In some cases, a sample of stool or vomit can be sent to the laboratory for further testing to find out which toxin caused the illness. In a majority of cases, a specific cause is not found.
  • A urine sample helps assess how dehydrated the patient is and may indicate possible kidney damage.
  • Blood tests may be performed to determine the seriousness of the illness. An X-ray of the abdomen or a CT scan may be taken if the doctor suspects the patient's symptoms may be caused by another illness.

Food Poisoning Treatment

Home remedies for food poisoning that last less than 24 hours include drinking plenty of fluids, taking small sips of clear liquids; avoiding alcohol, sugary, or caffeinated drinks; and rehydrating with sports drinks. Medical treatments for food poisoning include anti-diarrheal agents, antibiotics in some cases, or hospitalization in some cases.

Food Poisoning Home Remedies

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Short episodes of vomiting and small amounts of diarrhea lasting less than 24 hours can usually be cared for at home.

  • Do not eat solid food while nauseous or vomiting but drink plenty of fluids.
    • Small, frequent sips of clear liquids (those you can see through) are the best way to stay hydrated.
    • Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, or sugary drinks. Over-the-counter rehydration products made for children such as Pedialyte and Rehydralyte are expensive but good to use if available.
    • Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are fine for adults if they are diluted with water because at full strength they contain too much sugar, which can worsen diarrhea.
    • Home remedies to treat nausea or diarrhea such as tea with lemon and ginger can be used for relief from symptoms. There are no proven herbal food poisoning cures. Consult a health care professional before taking any natural food poisoning remedies.
  • After successfully tolerating fluids, eating should begin slowly, when nausea and vomiting have stopped. Plain foods that are easy on the stomach should be started in small amounts. Initially consider eating rice, wheat, breads, potatoes, low-sugar cereals, lean meats, and chicken (not fried). Milk can be given safely, although some people may experience additional stomach upset due to lactose intolerance.
  • Most food poisonings do not require the use of over-the-counter medicines to stop diarrhea, but they are generally safe if used as directed. It is not recommended that these medications be used to treat children. If there is a question or concern, always check with a doctor.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/12/2013

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Food Poisoning - Causes and Experience Question: What caused your food poisoning? Please describe your food-borne illness.
Food Poisoning - Symptoms Question: What were your food poisoning symptoms and signs?
Food Poisoning - Home Remedies Question: What are the home remedies you use for food poisoning?
Food Poisoning - Medical Treatment Question: What type of medical treatment did you receive for food poisoning?