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Food Poisoning


Food poisoning is when you get sick after you eat food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Food poisoning most commonly happens when you eat raw or undercooked food. Meat, seafood, produce, and dairy products are common foods that can become contaminated.



  • Diarrhea medicine: This is given to slow or stop your diarrhea.

  • Vomiting medicine: This is given to calm your stomach and stop your vomiting. Take this medicine if you feel sick to your stomach. Do not wait until you start vomiting.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine may be given if caregivers believe your food poisoning is caused by bacteria. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if you start to feel better sooner.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent food poisoning:

Follow these rules at home to prevent food poisoning:

  • Cook foods all the way through: Cook eggs until the yolks are firm. Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat is heated to a temperature that will kill any bacteria. Do not eat raw or undercooked poultry, seafood, or meat.

  • Clean thoroughly: Wash your hands in warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after you handle or prepare foods. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a diaper, or touch an animal. Rinse fruits and vegetables in running water. Clean cutting boards, knives, countertops, and other areas where you prepare food before and after you cook. Wash sponges and dishtowels weekly in hot water.

  • Store food properly: Refrigerate or freeze fruits and vegetables, cooked foods, and leftovers right away. Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees F or lower and your freezer at 0 degrees F.

  • Separate raw and cooked foods: Keep raw meat and its juices away from other foods to prevent the spread of bacteria. Always put cooked meat on a clean platter. Never use a platter that held raw meat.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider if your symptoms are not better after 2 days of treatment:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You are very thirsty and your mouth and tongue are dry.

  • Your diarrhea has lasted more than 3 days.

  • You have bloody diarrhea.

  • You have diarrhea and a fever higher than 101.5°F.

Return to the emergency department if:

Your vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain continue and you develop the following new symptoms:

  • You are vomiting so often that you cannot keep any liquid down.

  • You have a fever and pale skin, and you feel irritated and tired.

  • You are very drowsy or cannot stay awake.

  • Your eyes are sunken and so dry you have no tears.

  • Your arms and legs feel colder than normal, or they look blue.

  • You urinate small amounts or not at all.

  • You feel dizzy or confused.

  • You have severe pain in your abdomen.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.