It's normal to think of food with fondness, hunger and appreciation. It gives us life, sustains our planet and fills our bellies. When food turns against us in the form of food poisoning, however, it is a very unpleasant and even miserable experience. Knowing how to treat food poisoning is a vital first step to feeling better and taking care of your body. If your symptoms are mild and last less than a 24 hours cycle, you may be able successfully treat yourself at home. If you cannot keep any liquids or solid food down for more than 24 hours, you may need to seek medical assistance, mainly consisting of intravenous (IV) rehydration.
There are several sources of food poisoning. One type of food poisoning is caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. The bacterium salmonella is probably the most well-known of these food poisoning sources. Salmonella is usually found in undercooked meats and meat products, or foods that are prepared in unsanitary conditions. Another source of food poisoning is toxic food. With toxic food, the food itself — in its natural state — is poisonous to humans. Certain species of mushrooms and fish are poisonous to eat.
Less severe food poisoning symptoms can usually be self-treated. If you are having short episodes of food poisoning in the form of vomiting and diarrhea lasting less than a day, you should be able to treat yourself at home. Drink plenty of fluids, but do not attempt to eat any solid foods if you are still vomiting or feeling nauseous. Avoid any caffeine, alcohol or sugary drinks as these will only dehydrate you further. Seek out fluids like water and other electrolyte-enhanced drinks, such as sports drinks.
In addition to staying hydrated, you should treat food poisoning with lots of rest. For more serious forms of poisoning, you won't have many options — your body will feel weak and you won't want to do much else than lie down. For less severe forms of food poisoning, where you feel like you can still carry out some of your normal routine, it's important to force yourself to rest. No matter the severity of the food poisoning, the body will expend a lot of energy fighting off the poison.
As you begin to feel better, and are able to keep fluids down, you'll be able to slowly introduce solid foods. Plain foods like toast, rice, potatoes and bananas are easily digestible foods to start with. If you are concerned with overcoming your diarrhea, you may safely take an over-the-counter diarrhea medication, as long as you take it according to the manufacturer's directions. Continue to drink lots of clear fluids to keep the body hydrated as you reintroduce solid foods.
Severe food poisoning symptoms, including those that continue unabated for over 24 hours, may require medical attention. Since vomiting and diarrhea quickly dehydrate the body, professional help may be required to properly treat food poisoning. Through the use of an IV, a doctor can ensure that the body maintains the amount of fluids it needs.