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Food Poisoning Health Center

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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 -- Symptoms

Generally, food poisoning causes some combination of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that may or may not be bloody, sometimes with other symptoms. After eating tainted food, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting, can start as early as one hour in the case of staph and as late as 10 days in the case of campylobacter. It may take even longer to develop symptoms from parasite infections such as Giardia. Symptoms can last from one day up to a couple of months or longer, depending on the type of...

Read the Understanding Food Poisoning -- Symptoms 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.

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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