Food poisoning may be caused by food spoilage, undercooked meats, natural toxins found in some foods or even foods being contaminated during processing. Food poisoning symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and sometimes fever and headaches. The illness usually clears up on its own after a few days, but there are steps a person can take to recover from food poising faster and make the process a little easier. Individuals should always consult a doctor before starting a self-help treatment at home and to discuss the best options for recovery.
Drink plenty of fluids. Water, clear broths and clear carbonated drinks are easier on the stomach and help prevent dehydration. Speak with a doctor about electrolyte solution drinks. It's particularly important that electrolytes be replaced in children with vomiting or diarrhea. Taking fluids in small sips or through a straw may settle the stomach and help keep the fluids down.
Call a doctor if symptoms do not go away after a few days or if individuals are unable to keep fluids down. A doctor should also be contacted if a fever is present, vision problems occur or if an individual has trouble breathing and swallowing, as this may indicate an allergic reaction or underlying illness. If the food poisoning was caused by seafood or mushrooms, medical attention should be sought to treat possible toxins or begin anti-viral or antibacterial medication.
Eat bland foods. When able, eat easier to digest foods such as rice, toast, crackers or bananas to get some nutrients. Avoid dairy products and greasy or spicy foods for a few days until the stomach is settled. Don’t force a person to eat if the food won’t stay down. It’s more important that a person to keep fluids down than food for a few days.
Get plenty of rest. Food poisoning can be exhausting, and individuals don’t often get their full eight hours of rest when cramping and nausea wakes them up throughout the night. Getting plenty of rest through the day will help the body do its job and rid itself of the virus or infection. Sleep deprivation also makes a person more susceptible to illnesses such as flu or the common cold, and the last thing a person recovering from food poisoning wants to deal with is a secondary illness.
Avoid anti-diarrhea medications unless directed by a physician. The body is trying to expel toxins when food poison strikes. That’s why diarrhea and vomiting are the two most common symptoms of the illness. Anti-diarrhea medication can help with discomfort, but should only be used if a doctor suggests that it won’t interfere with the body’s natural expulsion process.
Help prevent food poisoning by washing hands and foods before eating, refrigerating foods promptly and cooking meats thoroughly.
Call a doctor when food poisoning affects children or the elderly as they are often more susceptible to dehydration.