With more than 48 million cases in the U.S. per year, food poisoning is an affliction almost everyone will encounter at one point or another in their lives. Whether it’s caused by improper handling of food, kitchen contamination, drinking contaminated milk or something else, it’s no fun. And while most people choose to self-treat their food poisoning symptoms, there’s no need to brave it alone!
What Is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning happens anytime you are affected by a contaminant in your food or drink. These can be bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. The most common culprits are Salmonella, Toxoplasma, Listeria, Norovirus, and Campylobacter. Because the designation has more to do with how a disease or condition is transmitted than what the condition or disease actually is, there are a wide variety of symptoms and treatments associated with food poisoning. Common symptoms include:
All of these can lead to dehydration, especially when they all gang up on you at once. It’s especially important to stay well hydrated while you remain sick, and for a lengthy sickness, you’ll want to monitor your electrolytes too. Additional complications can cause long-term effects including:
- Kidney failure caused by hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), usually related to E. coli contamination, and most commonly seen in children.
- Brain or nerve damage caused by a Listeria infection which can lead to meningitis. Extremely serious cases of Campylobacter can also cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, an unusual condition in which the immune system attacks a person’s nerves, leading to paralysis.
- Chronic arthritis which can be related to Shigella, Salmonella, or Campylobacter infection, though it is uncommon.
Those most at risk for severe complications include pregnant women, young children, seniors, and anyone with a compromised immune system or chronic illness. Some severe food poisoning related conditions, including dehydration, can lead to death if untreated. If your symptoms seem particularly severe or prolonged, be sure to seek medical treatment.
Most of the time, non-severe food poisoning will resolve on its own within three to five days. If you’re determined to brave this alone, there are still a few ways you can help yourself feel better, faster.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, but also consider sports drinks for their electrolytes, or fruit juice to replenish carbs and help overcome fatigue from lack of appetite. Consider diluting sports drinks or fruit juice by mixing it with water in order to minimize the amount of sugar you are receiving.
- Take over-the-counter medications as indicated. To help treat diarrhea, you can take bismuth subsalicylate (known by brand names like Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate) or loperamide (Imodium).
- Get plenty of rest. There are few things that will help your immune system work to its full potential like sleep.
Get Medically Treated at Home
Even if your symptoms aren’t particularly severe, the best way to feel better faster, and keep scary complications like dehydration at bay, is to call DispatchHealth to treat you without the need to sit in a germy waiting room or even leave the house. The emergency care providers at DispatchHealth are ready and able to get you through a nasty bout of food poisoning, right from the comfort of your own home.
But what can they really do to help? Surprisingly, a lot.
In addition to treating your symptoms with anti-diarrhea and anti-nausea medication if appropriate, they have a few tricks up their sleeves to help you ward off dehydration too. They can test your electrolyte levels and administer electrolyte treatments if needed, and they can also give you fluids via IV if you’re already experiencing some level of dehydration. And the best part? You won’t even have to change out of your pajamas.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
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