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First Aid For Food Poisoning

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Food poisoning is a condition that is caused by ingesting contaminated foods. Contamination may be either from viruses, bacteria, toxins, parasites or chemicals. Contamination may occur where the food is prepared, especially when it was not handled well. This can happen at any point in time during the production of food and cross contamination of food occurs. This often occurs in foods that are served raw, and ready to eat foods.

Signs and symptoms of a food poisoning

The symptoms may vary depending on the source of contamination and what type of contaminating agent is involved. Most common signs and symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Symptoms that give signals as to the severity of food poisoning may be indicated by blood in the stool and dehydration. Some symptoms may indicate as to which part of the body was affected by food poisoning. Other symptoms that may also occur include fever, bloody diarrhea, bloating and hepatic and renal problems.

food poisoning

Food poisoning can cause severe vomiting

First aid management and treatment

One should call the emergency medical responders right away if the person may have been poisoned from seafood or mushrooms and if the person is severely dehydrated, give first aid immediately.

Control nausea and vomiting

  • Do not give solid foods until the person stops vomiting. Advise the patient to eat light, bland foods such as unflavored crackers or bread.
  • Drinking soda will help reduce the frequency of vomiting.
  • Advise the patient not to eat fried, greasy or sweet foods
  • It is also important not to take medications like anti-nausea or anti-diarrhea medications unless prescribed by the physician. Some of these medications make some other diarrhea worse.

Prevent dehydration

  • Advise patient to drink clear fluids starting with small amounts and gradually increasing the amounts
  • If vomiting and diarrhea lasts for more than 24 hours, replacing electrolytes with oral rehydration solution might be necessary.  The patient should be advised to drink approximately the same amount as to the vomitus or the stools.

When to call a doctor

  • If the diarrhea lasts more than 3 days
  • If diarrhea would occur after eating mushrooms or seafood
  • If diarrhea is accompanied by fever (101.5 F)
  • Severe abdominal cramping
  • If stools are blood streak or coffee ground in color
  • Prolonged vomiting that the person is not able to take in any oral fluid replacement
  • If the person has signs of severe dehydration such as dry mouth, low urine output, lightheadedness,body weakness and fatigue, palpitations or increased breathing.
  • If the person displays difficulty speaking or swallowing


Mayo Clinic. Food-Borne Illness. Retrieved on June 13, 2014 from

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