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Food Poisoning, Ambulatory Care

Food poisoning

is when you get sick after you eat contaminated food. Bacteria, such as listeria, salmonella, or E coli, may cause food poisoning. Viruses, such as rotavirus, and parasites, such as giardia, may also cause food poisoning. The exact cause of your food poisoning may not be known. 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.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps or pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Fatigue or weakness

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting so often that you cannot keep any liquid down
  • Fever and pale skin
  • Extreme tiredness or inability to stay awake
  • Sunken eyes that are so dry, you have no tears
  • Cold or blue arms or legs
  • Urinating small amounts or not at all
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Severe pain in your abdomen

Treatment for food poisoning

may include medicine to slow or stop your diarrhea and vomiting. You may also need medicine to treat a bacterial infection.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink more liquids than usual to prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS contains a balance of water, salt, and sugar to replace body fluids lost during vomiting and diarrhea. Ask what kind of ORS to use, how much to drink, and where to get it.
  • Eat bland foods. Good examples include broth, bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea. Do not drink sugary drinks, caffeine, or alcohol because they can make your symptoms worse.

Prevent food poisoning:

  • Cook food 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 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 food. 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°F or lower and your freezer at 0°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 food on a clean platter. Never use a platter that held raw meat.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.

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