Most people don't need to seek medical attention for a salmonella infection because it clears up on its own within a few days. However, in cases involving infants, young children, and older or immunocompromised adults, call your doctor if the illness lasts more than a few days, is associated with high fever or bloody stools, or appears to be causing dehydration.
If you make an appointment with your doctor, it's a good idea to prepare for it. Here's some information to help you.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down your symptoms, including those that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including major stresses, recent life changes or recent travel.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Bring a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember information you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions for your doctor will help you make the most of your time together. For salmonella infection, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What tests do I need?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will need to know:
- When the illness began
- The frequency of the vomiting or diarrhea
- Whether the vomit or stool contains visible bile, mucus or blood
- If you have a fever
- If you've recently traveled outside the country
What you can do in the meantime
To prevent dehydration, drink water or suck on ice chips. To prevent dehydration in children, use an oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
April 05, 2014
- Hohmann EL. Approach to the patient with nontyphoidal Salmonella in a stool culture. http://www.uptodate.com/home/. Accessed Dec. 9, 2013.
- Salmonella questions and answers: Food safety information. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/abff4b65-494e-45f4-9d69-75e168c8524b/Salmonella_Questions_and_Answers.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. Accessed Dec. 9, 2013.
- Salmonella. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/. Accessed Dec. 9, 2013.
- Patient information: Dehydration (the basics). http://www.uptodate.com/home/. Accessed Dec. 9, 2013.
- Diarrhoea and vomiting caused by gastroenteritis: Diagnosis, assessment and management in children younger than 5 years. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=14445&search=dehydration. Accessed Dec. 9, 2013.
- Salmonella infections. The Merck Manuals: Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/sec14/ch173/ch173p.html. Accessed Dec. 9, 2013.
- The Salmonella Action Plan presents a number of aggressive steps the agency will take to prevent Salmonella-related illnesses. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/foodborne-illness-and-disease/salmonella/sap. Accessed Dec. 8, 2013.
- FDA releases draft risk profile on pathogens and filth in spices, takes steps to strengthen spice safety. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm372995.htm. Accessed Dec. 9, 2013.
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