Treatment for food poisoning typically depends on the source of the illness, if known, and the severity of your symptoms. For most people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days, though some types of food poisoning may last a week or more.
Treatment of food poisoning may include:
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- Replacement of lost fluids. Fluids and electrolytes — minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in your body — lost to persistent diarrhea need to be replaced. Children and adults who are severely dehydrated need treatment in a hospital, where they can receive salts and fluids through a vein (intravenously), rather than by mouth. Intravenous hydration provides the body with water and essential nutrients much more quickly than oral solutions do.
- Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning and your symptoms are severe. Food poisoning caused by listeria needs to be treated with intravenous antibiotics in the hospital. And the sooner treatment begins, the better. During pregnancy, prompt antibiotic treatment may help keep the infection from affecting the baby.
- Foodborne infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/foodborne_infections/. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Diagnosis and management of foodborne illnesses: A primer for physicians and other health care professionals. MMWR Recommendations and Reports. 2004;53:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5304a1.htm. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Bacteria and foodborne illness. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/bacteria/Bacteria_Foodborne.pdf. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Pigott DC. Foodborne illness. Emergency Medical Clinics of North America. 2008;26:475.
- Newell DG, et al. Food-borne diseases — The challenges of 20 years ago still persist while new ones continue to emerge. International Journal of Food Microbiology. 2010;139:S3.
- Listeriosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/listeriosis_gi.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Fight BAC. Partnership for Food Safety Education. http://www.fightbac.org/storage/documents/flyers/fightbac_color_brochure.pdf. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Minimum cooking temperatures. FoodSafety.gov. http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.