Food Poisoning Health (cont.)

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Food Poisoning Medical Treatment

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The main treatment for food poisoning is replacing fluids into the body (rehydration) through an IV and by drinking. The patient may need to be admitted to the hospital. This depends on the severity of the dehydration, response to therapy, and ability to drink fluids without vomiting. Children, in particular, may need close observation.

  • Anti-vomiting and diarrhea medications may be given.
  • The doctor may also treat any fever to make the patient more comfortable.
  • Antibiotics are rarely needed for food poisoning. In some cases, antibiotics worsen the condition. Only a few specific causes of food poisoning are improved by using these medications. The length of illness with traveler's diarrhea (shigellae) can be decreased with antibiotics, but this specific illness usually runs its course and improves without treatment.
  • With mushroom poisoning or eating foods contaminated with pesticides, aggressive treatment may include intravenous (IV) fluids, emergency intervention for life-threatening symptoms, and giving medications such as antidotes, such as activated charcoal. These poisonings are very serious and may require intensive care in the hospital.

Food Poisoning Follow-up

After visiting a doctor or the emergency department, the patient should follow any specific instructions and take any medications prescribed exactly as directed. Continue to drink extra fluids until the diarrhea stops completely. The affected individual may need to miss one to two days of work or school to let the body recover. If any symptoms change or worsen, contact a doctor.

Food Poisoning Prevention

Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential to avoiding food-borne illness. Bacteria cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, and they may be on any food.

Follow the CDC food safety guidelines to keep contaminants away.

Safe shopping

  • Buy cold foods last during your shopping trip. Get them home fast.
  • Never choose torn or leaking packages.
  • Do not buy foods past their "sell-by" or expiration dates.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods.
  • Pregnant women should avoid foods that can carry Listeria and should discuss healthy foods during their pregnancy with their OB/GYN physician.

Safe storage of foods

  • Keep it safe; refrigerate.
  • Unload perishable foods first and immediately refrigerate them. Place raw meat, poultry, or fish in the coldest section of your refrigerator.
  • Check the temperature of your appliances. To slow bacterial growth, the refrigerator should be at 40 F (4.44 C) , the freezer at 0 F (-17.7 C).
  • Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within two days.

Safe food preparation

  • Keep everything clean!
  • Wash hands before and after handling raw meat and poultry.
  • Sanitize cutting boards often in a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach in one quart of water.
  • Do not cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash hands, cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.
  • Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator. Discard any uncooked/unused marinade.

Thawing food safely

  • Refrigerator: Allows slow, safe thawing. Make sure thawing juices do not drip on other foods.
  • Cold water: For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge in cold tap water.
  • Microwave: Cook meat and poultry immediately after microwave thawing.

Safe cooking

  • Use a meat thermometer
  • Cook ground meats to 160 F (71 C)
  • Cook ground poultry to 165 F (74 C)
  • Cook beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops to 145 F (63 C)
  • Cook all cuts of fresh pork to 160 F (71 C).
  • Whole poultry should reach 180 F (82 C) in the thigh; breasts 170 F (76.6 C).
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Never leave food out more than two hours (or more than one hour in temperatures above 90 F [32 C]).
  • Bacteria that cause food poisoning grow rapidly at room temperature.
  • Use cooked leftovers within four days.
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.
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