Food poisoning treatment
Dr. Anna Chacon, MDTelehealth visit
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Dawn Drewes, APRNTelehealth visit
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About Food poisoning
Food poisoning - also known as foodborne illness - is an illness caused by eating food infected by bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, or parasites. Symptoms of food poisoning may start within a few hours (1-6) after consuming the contaminated food, but this window may vary depending on the pathogen.
- Stomach cramps
Food poisoning is very common. Nearly 48 million people experience food poisoning every year in the United States. While most instances of food poisoning are mild and will go away within a few days, severe cases can lead to hospitalization or death. Common causes of food contamination include:
- Improper storage: If certain food (such as meat, cheese, seafood, and some produce) is not refrigerated or frozen properly, it can become contaminated with infectious organisms. Promptly store appropriate items in the fridge or freezer to prevent the growth of these pathogens.
- Improper washing: Produce can carry traces of feces and toxins, which can cause an infection if let into the body. Properly rinse and store produce to wash away infectious organisms.
- Unsanitary handling: Toxins, fecal matter, and other infectious organisms can live on your hands and kitchen surfaces. Not washing your hands thoroughly after using the restroom, or before handling food, can cause these pathogens to find their way to food. Similarly, if you do not properly clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces, they can begin to host infectious organisms. Wash surfaces, cutting boards, and utensils thoroughly with hot water and dish soap to prevent infection from harmful viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
If you are experiencing frequent episodes of vomiting or diarrhea, coupled with fever symptoms, see a health care provider as soon as you can. Most instances of food poisoning are mild and will go away within a few days. However, severe infections or untreated infections can cause dehydration, hospitalization, or even death. To prevent medical emergencies or complications, seek medical treatment for food poisoning for treatment.
Below is a list of treatment options for food poisoning. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about your symptoms and discuss the treatment plan that’s right for you.
In general, antibiotics are not helpful except in certain instances. In fact, antibiotics can actually worsen some cases depending on the pathogen. Talk to your doctor about medical treatment that is appropriate and effective against the infectious pathogen.
If you are hospitalized for food poisoning or have become severely dehydrated from food poisoning, you may be connected to an IV that will supply necessary fluids and electrolytes.
In the case of a viral or fungal condition, it is advised that you use self-care methods to reduce symptoms and speed up recovery.
Most mild bacterial infections, viral, parasitic, or fungal infections can be treated with simple self-care remedies. These include:
- Fluid intake. Food poisoning can dehydrate you quickly and seriously. If you are vomiting, or have diarrhea, drink plenty of water and electrolyte-rich beverages to replace lost fluids and maintain hydration.
- Rest. Your body needs the energy to fight off an infection. Take a break from daily tasks and avoid strenuous activities to maintain your hydration and encourage recovery.
- Probiotics. Talk to your doctor before treating yourself with probiotics. Probiotics can help restore healthy gut bacteria that may be eliminated by antibiotics, and may also help with recovery.
- Eat easy-to-digest foods. Foods such as white bread, saltine crackers, gelatin and bananas are relatively easy to digest. It is important that you maintain nutrition, even if you have an upset stomach. These foods can provide nourishment without further upsetting digestion.