How is food poisoning treated?

Healthy adults may recover from mild to moderate cases of some types of food poisoning with rest, avoiding solid food until symptoms subside, and ensuring adequate hydration to prevent dehydration. However, seek medical care if you have symptoms of food poisoning, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Food-borne illnesses can spread quickly and potential outbreaks of food poisoning need to be tracked to contain the spread.

Food poisoning treatment includes:

  • Antibiotics for severe food poisoning caused by bacteria, such as salmonellosis, shigellosis, campylobacteriosis, and Escherichia coli (E. coli)

  • Avoiding solid food until symptoms subside

  • Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Fluids include water or an oral rehydrating fluid such as Pedialyte.

  • Hospitalization and rehydration with intravenous fluids if food poisoning does not resolve quickly or leads to dehydration or other complications

  • Rest

What are the potential complications of food poisoning?

Complications of food poisoning and related diseases, such as wound botulism, can be serious, even life-threatening in some cases. People most at risk of serious or life-threatening complications include:

  • Children

  • Infants

  • Older adults

  • People who have compromised immune systems due to such conditions as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, kidney disease, organ transplant, cancer or cancer treatment, and steroid treatment

  • Pregnant women

  • Complications of food poisoning include:

  • Complications of pregnancy, such as miscarriage and stillbirth

  • Electrolyte imbalance

  • Kidney and liver damage

  • Meningitis

  • Neurological and developmental problems in infants and young children

  • Paralysis

  • Reiter’s syndrome and chronic arthritis

  • Sepsis

  • Severe dehydration due to the loss of fluids and electrolytes from diarrhea and vomiting

  • Shock


  1. Salmonella. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Food Poisoning. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.
  3. E. coli. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
  4. Bresee JS, Marcus R, Venezia RA, et al. The etiology of severe acute gastroenteritis among adults visiting emergency departments in the United States. J Infect Dis 2012; 205:1374.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is a general term for a wide variety of diseases that are caused by ingesting food or beverages that contain toxins or are contaminated with harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses or parasites. Food poisoning is also known as food-borne illness. Every year 48 million Americans suffer from food-borne illnesses.

Food poisoning typically causes irritatio... Read more about food poisoningintroduction


What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

Symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the specific type of food poisoning, the amount of infectious microorganisms or toxins ingested, your age, medical history, and other factors.

Classic symptoms of food poisoning affect the stomach and intestines and include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.... Read more about food poisoningsymptoms


What causes food poisoning?

Many types of food poisoning are spread through food or beverages that have been contaminated with human or animal feces that contain infectious bacteria, viruses or parasites. Any food can become contaminated with infectious microorganisms that cause food poisoning if it is handled by an infected person with unwashed hands or if it comes in contact with contaminated soil or water.

... Read more about food poisoningcauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System

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