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Nausea and Vomiting, Age 12 and Older - Prevention

Food poisoning

Food poisoning is one of the most common causes of nausea and vomiting in adults. To prevent food poisoning:

  • Follow the 2-40-140 rule. Don't eat meats, dressing, salads, or other foods that have been kept between 40 °F (4.4 °C) and 140 °F (60 °C) for more than 2 hours.
  • Be especially careful with large cooked meats, such as your holiday turkey, which require a long time to cool. Thick parts of the meat may stay over 40 °F (4.4 °C) long enough to allow bacteria to grow.
  • Use a thermometer to check your refrigerator. It should be between 34 °F (1.1 °C) and 40 °F (4.4 °C).
  • Defrost meats in the refrigerator or the microwave, not on the kitchen counter.
  • Wash your hands, cutting boards, and countertops often. After handling raw meats, especially chicken, wash your hands and utensils before preparing other foods.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that you reheat meats to over 140 °F (60 °C) for at least 10 minutes to destroy bacteria. Even then the bacteria may not be destroyed.
    • Cook all meats to the recommended temperature. See how to cook foods to prevent food poisoning.
    • Cook hamburger well done. Cook chicken until the juices run clear.
    • Cover meats and poultry during microwave cooking to heat the surface of the meat.
  • Do not eat raw eggs or uncooked sauces made with eggs.
  • Keep party foods on ice.
  • When you eat out, avoid rare and uncooked meats or seafood. Eat salad bar and deli items before they get warm.
  • Discard any cans or jars with bulging lids or leaks.
  • Follow home canning and freezing instructions carefully. Contact your county agricultural extension office for advice.
  • If you think that food may have been stored in your refrigerator for too long, don't take the chance. Throw it out.

For more information, see the topic Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling.

Viral illness

Increase your chance of staying healthy by:

  • Washing your hands often, especially during winter months when viral illnesses are most common.
  • Keeping your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth. Viruses are most likely to enter your body through these areas.
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Not smoking. Smoking irritates the lining of your nose, sinuses, and lungs, which may increase your risk for problems from a viral illness.

You can help prevent influenza by getting immunized with an influenza vaccine each year, as soon as it's available. The "flu shot" is given by injection. This form of the vaccine prevents most cases of the flu.

Even if a flu shot does not prevent the flu, the vaccine can make your flu symptoms milder and decrease the risk of problems from the flu.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 30, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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