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Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling - Treatment Overview

In most cases, the diarrhea and other symptoms of food poisoning go away in 2 to 3 days, and you don't need treatment. It may be longer than 2 to 3 days until you feel normal again.

All you have to do is manage symptoms, especially diarrhea, and avoid complications until the illness passes. In most cases, dehydration caused by diarrhea is the main complication.

Recommended Related to Food Poisoning

Understanding Food Poisoning -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Most cases of food poisoning are mild, lasting from one to three days. Since many people do not seek medical care, their food poisoning is not diagnosed.  Though your symptoms may sound suspicious, the only way to know for sure if you have food poisoning is to test the offending food or check the stool, blood, or vomit.  Chemical or toxin food poisoning can usually be diagnosed by a description of symptoms and by testing food potentially responsible for the poisoning.  

Read the Understanding Food Poisoning -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

Extra precautions should be taken to prevent dehydration in children.

To learn more about treating dehydration, including in children, see Home Treatment.

The goal of treatment is to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through vomiting and diarrhea. If dehydration is severe and can't be managed at home, you may need treatment in the hospital, where fluids and electrolytes may be given to you by inserting a needle into your vein (intravenously).

Medicines that stop diarrhea (such as Imodium) can help with your symptoms. But these medicines shouldn't be used in children or in people with a high fever or bloody diarrhea. Antibiotics are rarely used and only for certain types of food poisoning or in severe cases. Pregnant women with listeriosis or toxoplasmosis may receive antibiotics.

For more information on treating diarrhea or dehydration, see:

For more information on treatment for specific organisms, see Symptoms.

Botulism, E. coli infection, and infection during pregnancy

For botulism and some cases of E. coliE. coli poisoning, immediate and intensive medical care is usually needed.

For more information, see:

Pregnant women should always consult their doctors if they think they may have food poisoning, because the infection can be passed on to the fetus.

Toxoplasmosis and listeriosis can also harm your baby. If you are diagnosed with either of these conditions during pregnancy, you will be treated with antibiotics. To learn more, see Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 18, 2012
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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