Because most food poisoning is mild and goes
away after a few days, most people do not go to the doctor. You can usually
assume that you have food poisoning if other people who ate the same food also
If you think you have food poisoning, call your local
health department to report it. This could help keep others from getting sick.
Call your doctor if you think you may have a serious illness. If
your diarrhea or vomiting is very bad or if you do not start to get better
after a few days, you may need to see your doctor.
If you do go to
the doctor, he or she will ask you about your symptoms (diarrhea, feeling sick
to your stomach, or throwing up), ask about your health in general, and do a
physical exam. Your doctor will ask about where you have been eating and
whether anyone who ate the same foods is also sick. Sometimes the doctor will
take stool or blood samples and have them tested.
How is it treated?
In most cases, food poisoning goes away on
its own in 2 to 3 days. All you need to do is rest and get plenty of fluids to
dehydration from diarrhea. Drink a cup of water or rehydration drink
(such as Pedialyte) each time you have a large, loose
stool. Soda and fruit juices
have too much sugar and should not be used to rehydrate. Doctors recommend
trying to eat normally as soon as possible. When you can eat without vomiting,
try to eat the kind of foods you usually do. But try to stay away from foods
that are high in fat or sugar.
Antibiotics are usually not used to
treat food poisoning. Medicines that stop diarrhea (antidiarrheals) can be
helpful, but they should not be given to infants or young children. You should not take antidiarrheals if you have a high fever or blood in the diarrhea, because they can make your illness worse.
If you think you are severely dehydrated, you may need to go to the
hospital. And in some severe cases, such as for
E. coli infection, you may need medical care right
How can you prevent food poisoning?
You can prevent most cases of food poisoning
with these simple steps:
- Clean. Wash your hands often and always before
you touch food. Keep your knives, cutting boards, and counters clean. You can
wash them with hot, soapy water, or put items in the dishwasher and use a
disinfectant on your counter. Wash fresh fruits and
- Separate. Keep germs from raw meat from getting on
fruits, vegetables, and other foods. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, not
back on the one that held the raw meat.
- Cook. Make sure that meat,
chicken, fish, and eggs are fully cooked.
- Chill. Refrigerate
leftovers right away. Don't leave cut fruits and vegetables at room temperature
for a long time.
- When in doubt, throw it out. If you are not sure
if a food is safe, don't eat it.
Frequently Asked Questions