Short episodes of
vomiting and small amounts of diarrhea lasting less than 24 hours can usually be
cared for at home.
- Do not eat solid food
while nauseous or vomiting but drink plenty of fluids.
- Small, frequent
sips of clear liquids (those you can see through) are the best way to stay
- Avoid alcoholic,
caffeinated, or sugary drinks, if possible. Over-the-counter re-hydration
products made for children such as Pedialyte and Rehydralyte are expensive
but good to use if available.
- Sports drinks such
as Gatorade and Powerade are fine for adults if they are diluted with water
because at full strength they contain too much sugar, which can worsen
- After successfully
tolerating fluids, eating should begin slowly, when nausea and vomiting have
stopped. Plain foods that are easy on the stomach should be started in small
amounts. Consider eating rice, wheat, breads, potatoes, cereals (low-sugar
cereals), lean meats, and chicken (not fried) to start. Milk can be given
safely, although some people may experience additional stomach upset due to
- Most food poisonings
do not require the use of over-the-counter medicines to stop diarrhea, but
they are generally safe if used as directed. It is not recommended that these
medications be given to children. If there is a question or concern, you
should always check with your doctor.
The main treatment for food poisoning is
putting fluids back in the body (the process of re-hydration) through an
intravenous line or by drinking. You may need to be admitted to the hospital.
This depends on the severity of the dehydration, your response to therapy, and
your ability to drink fluids without vomiting. Children, in particular, may
need close observation.
- Anti-vomiting and
diarrhea medications may be given.
- The doctor may also
treat any fever to make you more comfortable.
- Antibiotics are
rarely needed for food poisoning. In some cases, antibiotics would worsen the
condition. Only a few specific causes of food poisoning are improved by using
these medications. The length of illness with traveler's diarrhea (shigellae)
can be decreased with antibiotics, but this specific illness usually runs its
course and improves without treatment.
- With mushroom
poisoning or eating foods contaminated with pesticides, aggressive treatment
may include pumping the stomach (lavage) or giving medications as antidotes.
These poisonings are very serious and may require intensive care in the
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