Treatments for Food Poisoning


Diagnosing wake forest food poisoning often involves the doctor taking a detailed history of the duration of illness, symptoms experienced, and foods that were eaten.  A physical exam will also be performed to look for signs of dehydration.  Based on the patient’s symptoms and health history, additional diagnostic tests, such as blood or stool cultures, may be ordered to identify the cause of the illness.

With stool cultures, samples are sent to a lab where a technician tries to identify the organism responsible for the infection.  Should an organism be found, the doctor will likely contact the local health authorities to determine if the poisoning is linked to a known outbreak.  In some cases, it is not possible to identify the cause of food poisoning.


As with many medical conditions, treatment of food poisoning will largely depend on the source of infection and the severity of symptoms.  Most cases of food poisoning will resolve in a few days without treatment though some cases may be longer lasting.

Food poisoning treatment may include:

  • Replace lost fluids: Because diarrhea and vomiting are common with food poisoning, dehydration is always a concern.  Replacing the fluids and electrolytes (calcium, sodium, and potassium) lost during illness, ensures the body maintains a proper balance of fluids.  Certain children and adults with persistent vomiting or diarrhea may require hospitalization in order to receive electrolytes and fluids intravenously to treat or prevent dehydration.
  • Antibiotics: For certain cases of bacterial food poisoning where symptoms are severe, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria.  Food poisoning due to listeria will require intravenous antibiotics while hospitalized and starting treatment as soon as possible is advised.  This is particularly true during pregnancy as starting antibiotic treatments promptly may help keep the infection from spreading to the baby.  Antibiotics are only effective on illnesses caused by bacteria and do not work for those caused by viruses.  In fact, using antibiotics can actually worsen symptoms when used on certain viral or bacterial food poisoning so it is important to discuss options with the doctor.
  • Over-the-counter Medications: Adults with mild food poisoning that do not have a fever or bloody diarrhea, may find relief from medications such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) or loperamide (Imodium A-D).  Discuss these options with a doctor to ensure suitability.
  • Lifestyle and Home Remedies: Since food poisoning generally clears up within 48 hours without treatment, keeping yourself comfortable and preventing dehydration are generally sufficient.  Some recommended remedies include:
    • Letting the stomach settle by avoiding any food or beverage for a few hours.
    • Sucking on ice chips or slowly sipping water, soda, broth, or sports drinks to maintain hydration. Ample hydration can be assured when the urine is clear and not dark.
    • Discuss using probiotics with a doctor to ensure a healthy gut
    • Gradually resume eating habits. Begin with easy to digest foods like toast, crackers, bananas, or gelatin.  Discontinue eating if nausea returns.
    • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, dairy products, nicotine, and fatty foods.
    • Get ample rest to recover from the illness and dehydration.

More on Food Poisoning : Types of Food Poisoning