Diagnosis

Salmonella infection can be detected by testing a sample of your stool. However, most people have recovered from their symptoms by the time the test results return.

If your doctor suspects that you have a salmonella infection in your bloodstream, he or she may suggest testing a sample of your blood for the bacteria.

Treatment

Medications

Because salmonella infection can be dehydrating, treatment focuses on replacing fluids and electrolytes. Severe cases may require hospitalization and fluids delivered directly into a vein (intravenous). In addition, your doctor may recommend:

  • Anti-diarrheals. Medications such as loperamide (Imodium A-D) can help relieve cramping, but they may also prolong the diarrhea associated with salmonella infection.
  • Antibiotics. If your doctor suspects that salmonella bacteria have entered your bloodstream, or if you have a severe case or a compromised immune system, he or she may prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Antibiotics are not of benefit in uncomplicated cases. In fact, antibiotics may prolong the period in which you carry the bacteria and can infect others, and they can increase your risk of relapse.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Even if you don't need medical attention for your salmonella infection, you need to take care not to dehydrate, a common concern with diarrhea and vomiting. Adults should drink water or suck on ice chips. For children, you can use an oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte, unless your doctor advises otherwise.

Preparing for your appointment

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, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, 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 08, 2017
References
  1. Hohmann EL. Nontyphoidal salmonella: Gastrointestinal infection and carriage. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 21, 2016.
  2. 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 Nov. 21, 2016.
  3. Salmonella. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/. Accessed Nov. 21, 2016.
  4. Oral rehydration therapy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 21, 2016.
  5. Nontyphoidal salmonella infections. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/nontyphoidal-salmonella-infections. Accessed Nov. 21, 2016.
  6. FSIS releases comprehensive strategy to reduce salmonella. 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 Nov. 21, 2016.
  7. 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 Nov. 21, 2016.