How to Get Rid of Food Poisoning

Three Parts:Determining What Action to TakeRelieving the Symptoms of Food PoisoningPreventing Food Poisoning

Food poisoning strikes when you eat food that is contaminated with bacteria or another toxin, or that has natural poisonous properties. The painful symptoms usually subside on their own after few days, when the source of the poisoning has left your body, but there are actions you can take in the meantime to make yourself more comfortable and speed up your recovery. In severe cases, you may need to seek medical attention.

Part 1
Determining What Action to Take

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    Figure out what caused the food poisoning. Before treating the symptoms of food poisoning, it's important to figure out what caused it. Think back to the food you ate in the last 4 to 36 hours. Did you try something new? Did anything taste slightly off? Did you share food with a friend or family member who is also experiencing symptoms? Here are the most likely causes of food poisoning:
    • Food that has been contaminated by E. coli, Salmonella, and other types of bacteria. Bacteria are usually killed when food is cooked and handled properly, so this type of food poisoning usually results from undercooked meat or food that was left sitting out without refrigeration.[1]
    • Poisonous fish, such as puffer fish, are also a common source of food poisoning. Puffer fish should not be consumed unless it has been prepared by staff at a restaurant that is certified to do so.[2]
    • Poisonous wild mushrooms, which can look identical to healthy edible mushrooms, can also cause food poisoning.
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    Decide if immediate medical attention is necessary. Food poisoning that was caused by bacteria, especially when it strikes an otherwise healthy person, is usually treatable at home. However, depending on source of the food poisoning and the age of the person who has it, it may be necessary to seek medical help immediately, before treating the food poisoning symptoms.[3] Call the doctor if one of the following situations applies to you:
    • The person with food poisoning ate poisonous fish or mushrooms.
    • The person with food poisoning is an infant or young child.
    • The person with food poisoning is pregnant.
    • The person with food poisoning is over 65 years of age.
    • The person with food poisoning is experiencing severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, dizziness or fainting, or vomiting blood.

Part 2
Relieving the Symptoms of Food Poisoning

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    Limit solid foods. Food poisoning causes vomiting and diarrhea, natural bodily functions that work to dispel the poison from the body. Eating more solid foods will cause more vomiting and diarrhea, so it's best to avoid eating big meals until you're feeling better.
    • It should go without saying that you should avoid eating the food the caused the poisoning. If you aren't sure what caused it, forgo eating anything that hasn't been freshly prepared right before you consume it.
    • If you get tired of subsisting on broth and soup, eat plain foods that won't upset your stomach, like bananas, plain boiled white rice or dry toast.
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    Drink plenty of fluids. Vomiting and diarrhea lead to fluid loss, so it's important to drink water and other fluids to avoid dehydration. Adults should try to drink at least 16 cups of water a day.[4]
    • Herbal tea, especially mint tea, contains properties that calm the stomach. Try drinking a few cups of peppermint tea to stay hydrated and calm your nausea.
    • Ginger ale and lemon or lime soda can also help with rehydration, and the carbonation helps settle your stomach.[5]
    • Avoid coffee, alcohol and other fluids that cause more dehydration.
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    Replace electrolytes. If you're losing a lot of nutrients through dehydration, you can buy an electrolyte solution from a pharmacy to replace them. Gatorade or Pedialyte will work fine, too.
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    Get plenty of rest. You'll probably feel weak and tired after going through the symptoms of food poisoning. Sleep as much as you need to to help your body recover faster.[6]
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    Avoid medications. Over-the-counter medications meant to prevent diarrhea and vomiting can actually slow your recover by impeding the natural functions that eliminate the source of the food poisoning.[7]

Part 3
Preventing Food Poisoning

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    Wash your hands, dishes and kitchen surfaces. Food poisoning is often caused by bacteria that get transferred to food by way of unwashed hands, dishes, cutting boards, utensils or work surfaces. Take the following measures to prevent getting food poisoning this way:
    • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before preparing food.
    • Wash your dishes and utensils in warm, soapy water after they have been used.
    • Use a cleanser to wipe down your counters, tables, cutting boards and other kitchen surfaces after preparing a meal, especially one that includes raw meat.
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    Store food properly. Make sure that raw food, such as packages of uncooked chicken or steak, is kept separate from food that doesn't need to be cooked, to prevent cross-contamination. All meat and dairy should be refrigerated as soon as you bring it home from the market.[8]
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    Cook meat thoroughly. Cooking meat until it reaches an internal temperature that kills bacteria can prevent bacterial food poisoning. Make sure you know the temperature to which your meat should be cooked, and use a meat thermometer to check the temperature before you finish cooking it.[9]
    • Chicken and other poultry should be cooked to 165 F (73.9 C).
    • Ground beef should be cooked to 160 F (71.1 C).
    • Beef steaks and roasts should be cooked to 145 F (62.8 C).
    • Pork should be cooked to 160 F (71.1C).
    • Fish should be cooked to 145 F (62.8 C).
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    Don't eat wild mushrooms. Foraging for wild mushrooms has become a trend in recent years, but unless you're looking for mushrooms under the guidance of an expert, eating freshly picked mushrooms should be avoided. Even scientists have trouble distinguishing some edible and poisonous mushroom species without the aid of biological tests.


  • Don't risk eating food that has been sitting in your refrigerator for awhile. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Suck on ice or juice cubes to help manage nausea and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Try to avoid too much of outside food.

Article Info

Categories: Intestinal and Digestive Health | First Aid and Emergencies