How to Treat Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is caused by consuming food infected by bacteria or other toxins. Bacteria is generally the cause of the ailment due to improperly handling or storing food. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 48 million people get food poisoning every year. Symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms are generally seen within 12 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food and last from 1 to 10 days. Treating food poisoning can often be done at home. Monitor symptoms closely.

A woman drinking a glass of water in bed. (Image: Olesia Bilkei/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Do not resist the urge to vomit or have diarrhea. The body is attempting to rid the cause of food poisoning from the body.

Step 2

Allow the stomach and body to rest. Do not continue to eat and drink for several hours.

Step 3

Replace lost fluids from vomiting and diarrhea. Adults should drink 8 to 16 glasses of liquids daily. Avoid caffeinated drinks. Clear broth, water and sports drinks are recommended. Take small short sips to avoid upsetting the stomach further. Suck on ice chips if drinking liquid upsets the stomach.

Step 4

Add foods slowly back into the diet. Take small bites. Crackers, bananas, rice and gelatin should be consumed for the first few days. Avoid dairy foods as well as foods high in fat.

Step 5

Do not use anti-diarrhea medication. The medication may prevent the bacteria causing the infection to be released from the body.

Step 6

Get adequate amounts of rest if you have food poisoning. The body will need time to recuperate and fight the infection. Avoid strenuous and physical activity during this time.

Step 7

Visit a medical professional if diarrhea lasts more than 3 days, liquids cannot be consumed for a period of 24 hours, or blood is in vomit or diarrhea. Extreme pain and abdominal cramping are symptoms of a more severe infection -- seek medical attention if this occurs.

Things You'll Need

  • Water or liquids

  • Ice chips


Seek medical attention immediately if you are pregnant and suspect food poisoning.

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