Join for Just $16 A Year
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner
Treatment of food poisoning, except for botulism, focuses on preventing or correcting dehydration by replacing critical fluids and electrolytes lost through vomiting and diarrhea. Electrolytes are mineral salts that form electrically charged particles (ions) in body fluids; they help control body fluid balance and participate in many essential body functions. Pharmacists can recommend effective, pleasant-tasting, electrolyte replacement fluids that are available without a prescription. To prevent dehydration, a doctor may decide to give fluids intravenously. In very serious cases of food poisoning, medications may be given to stop abdominal cramping and vomiting. Antidiarrheal medications are not usually given. Stopping the diarrhea actually maintains toxin levels in the body for longer periods and may prolong the infection. Severe bacterial food poisonings are sometimes treated with intravenous antibiotics.
Modifying the diet while recovering from food poisoning is usually recommended. During a period of active vomiting and diarrhea, solid food should be avoided and only small quantities of clear liquids should be consumed as frequently as possible. Once active symptoms stop, bland, soft, easy-to-digest foods should be consumed for two to three days. One example is the BRAT diet of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, all of which are easy to digest. Milk products, spicy food, and fresh fruit should be avoided for a few days, although babies should continue to breastfeed. These modifications are often the only treatment that is necessary.
Botulism is treated in an entirely different way. Older children and adults can be treated with injections of a specific antitoxin for botulism if it can be administered within 72 hours after symptoms are first observed. If given later, it provides little or no benefit. Infants, however, cannot receive this antitoxin and are usually treated instead with injections of human botulism immune globulin (BIG), an antiserum that neutralizes the botulinum toxin. This antiserum is available in the United States through the Infant Botulism Treatment and Prevention Program in Berkeley, California. Both infants and adults may require hospitalization, often in the intensive care unit. Mechanical ventilators may be used for those whose ability to breathe is impaired and intravenous nutrition may be provided until any paralysis is corrected.
Author Info: L. Lee Culvert, Suzanne M. Lutwick MPH, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health, 2006
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
Member access to health and insurance products and services at AARPhealthcare.com.
Members can get an instant quote with AARP® Dental Insurance administered by Delta Dental Insurance Company.
Members can save on eyewear with AARP® Vision Discounts provided by EyeMed.
Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.