On this page
Food Poisoning Information
Food Poisoning Treatment
While the effects of food poisoning are usually not life-threatening, they can be very unpleasant and result in additional health conditions that require medical attention. Some patients may be at risk for more serious complications depending on their overall health condition and the type of bacteria or virus causing the illness.
Unfortunately, most viral infections have no specific treatment except supportive care, which can include intravenous fluids to replace fluids that are lost through diarrhea. Antibiotics are also not effective for viral infections because they target bacteria and will not help to kill the virus responsible for causing food poisoning symptoms.
Hepatitis A vaccines can provide some protection against hepatitis A, but only if the vaccine is given within 14 days of exposure to the virus.
Most cases of food poisoning are caused by bacteria, and those with bacterial infections will usually be treated with an antibiotic that is effective against the specific type of bacteria causing illness. The length of treatment depends upon which bacteria is causing the condition and may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. If possible, a doctor will take samples of blood or stool to determine exactly which strain of bacteria is responsible for causing the food poisoning symptoms in order to prescribe an effective antibiotic treatment.
Some patients experiencing mild food poisoning may not need to be seen by a doctor if their flu-like symptoms improve in two or three days. However, it is still important to seek medical attention in order to prevent dehydration and other complications in more serious cases. Drinking plenty of fluids and replacing lost electrolytes such as sodium and potassium can help restore healthy body function until symptoms pass naturally.
Seek Medical Attention
If you experience severe diarrhea lasting more than three days, bloody stools, or a fever higher than 102°F, consult your doctor immediately. These are signs of more serious food poisoning and likely require the immediate attention of a medical professional to prevent further complications or possible long-term effects.
Weakened immune systems
Patients with weakened immune systems are at greater risk for developing additional health conditions as a result of food poisoning. These can include dehydration, prolonged diarrhea, and potential infections such as bacteremia. Elderly patients may experience persistent complications from food poisoning even if their symptoms appear mild because their immune system is not as effective in fighting off bacterial infection compared to younger adults.
Patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as liver disease, cancer treatment side effects, and diabetes should seek emergency care immediately anytime they develop severe diarrhea for more than three days. These conditions reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection and could lead to septic shock in more serious cases, which can be fatal without treatment.
At Risk Groups
Patients who are at risk for longer-term complications should stay hydrated with clear fluids until their condition improves enough for them to eat solid foods. Avoiding dairy products is also beneficial in most cases of food poisoning because high levels of lactose may exacerbate diarrhea symptoms that result from the infection. Usually, patients will feel well enough to return to eating regular foods after they have completely recovered from the illness, but it is important to avoid consuming any food items that caused your initial bout of food poisoning until you speak with your doctor regarding its safety.
Seek medical attention
If you have a fever over 102 degrees, bloody stool, or other severe symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately.