Book an appointment Feather-communication-phone
Prevent Food Poisoning With These 6 Steps

Blog Urgent Care

Food Poisoning Treatments

writtenByWritten by: Phoebe Byers
Phoebe Byers

Phoebe Byers

From New York, Phoebe attended the College of William & Mary and received an MPH from Univ. of S. Carolina. Her passion for empowering others to live healthier lives has led her to work in healthcare.

Read more posts by this author.

March 31, 2021 Read Time - 7 minutes

Food Poisoning Treatment and Prevention

You’ve likely experienced food poisoning at some point in your life. Whether it was the chicken you let thaw, freeze, and then rethaw or a bad order of oysters, food poisoning is distressing, unpleasant, and can even be life-threatening in serious cases. 

Food poisoning symptoms range from intestinal discomfort to severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Here’s what you need to know about the stages of food poisoning, at-home food poisoning remedies, and food poisoning treatment options to quickly recover from foodborne illness.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

What Is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning, or foodborne illness, is an illness caused by eating food contaminated by infectious organisms. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and their toxins are all common causes of food contamination.

Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food at any point of food processing or production. Some people also experience food poisoning after eating food incorrectly handled or cooked at home.

“Some foods are more associated with foodborne illnesses and food poisoning than others,” according to the United States Centers for Disease Control. “They can carry harmful germs that can make you very sick if the food is contaminated.” Foods commonly linked to food poisoning include:

  • Chicken, beef, pork, and turkey
  • Seafood and raw shellfish
  • Raw flour
  • Raw eggs
  • Sprouts

In most cases, food poisoning is mild and does not require treatment. In more severe cases, foodborne illness can be life-threatening and may require urgent care.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms vary depending on the source of contamination. Most people experiencing foodborne illness will experience a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and/or cramps
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Fever

What Are the Stages of Food Poisoning?

The stages of food poisoning vary depending on the type of infectious organism, how much food was consumed, and the individual’s immune system. Most people experience the symptoms of food poisoning within 6–16 hours of consuming contaminated food.

With that said, some types of foodborne illness are latent, meaning they reproduce in your system before presenting symptoms. For example, Hepatitis A can take 15–50 days to reproduce before an individual experiences any symptoms.

How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

Unlike the stomach flu, which can last for several weeks, food poisoning typically lasts 1–10 days. However, the duration of foodborne illness will depend on several factors, such as the type of infectious organism that caused the contamination.

If symptoms last longer than 48 hours, contact your doctor to discuss food poisoning treatment options.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Food Poisoning?

Most people recover from food poisoning within 24–48 hours without needing medical care.

Because there are over 250 types of food poisoning, the length of time it takes to recover will differ depending on: 

  • Individual symptom severity
  • How much food was consumed
  • What infectious organism caused the contamination

What to Do If You Have Food Poisoning

If you’re experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, it’s essential to take steps to avoid dehydration. As soon as your stomach settles, start taking small sips of water or sucking on ice cubes to rehydrate your body.

In addition to water, drinking a rehydration solution can help you start feeling better. Rehydration solutions help replace electrolytes in the body, which are necessary for your body to function.

Once you feel comfortable enough to eat solid food, opt for bland foods such as:

  • Saltine crackers
  • Rice
  • Toast
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Clear broths, such as bone broth

What Helps Food Poisoning at Home?

Home remedies that can help ease food poisoning symptoms include:

  • Resting – Taking it easy can help your body heal faster. If you need to take a few days off from work, ask for a doctor’s note. Once you feel comfortable enough to eat and drink again, stick to bland foods and water.
  • Rehydrating – Vomiting and diarrhea lead to electrolyte loss, which can leave you feeling lightheaded. Sports drinks or water with electrolyte tablets can help you regain electrolytes and prevent dehydration.
  • Adding probiotics to your meals – Probiotics are organisms that keep your gut biome healthy. Food poisoning can throw off the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut, and adding probiotics to your meals can help you bring your gut biome back into balance.
  • Taking over-the-counter medication. Over-the-counter medications such as Pepto-Bismol and loperamide can help ease food poisoning symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea.

When to See a Doctor for Food Poisoning

If you’re experiencing any of the following food poisoning symptoms, visit an urgent care center or schedule a virtual doctor’s appointment to discuss your food poisoning treatment options.

  • Frequent vomiting and inability to keep liquids down
  • Bloody vomit or stools
  • Diarrhea lasting longer than 3 days
  • Dehydration symptoms such as dark urine, extreme thirst, and lightheadedness
  • Extreme abdominal pain or cramping
  • Oral temperature higher than 100.4 °F
  • Neurological symptoms such as muscle weakness, tingling in the arms, and blurry vision

Foodborne illness is more dangerous to some groups of people. Contact your doctor if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Notice symptoms in an infant or toddler
  • Are older than 60 years of age
  • Have a chronic health condition such as diabetes
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

How to Prevent Food Poisoning

The next time you’re prepping for a meal, take these six tips to prevent foodborne illness.

  • Refrigerate perishable items ASAP. It’s best to refrigerate any perishable items immediately after purchasing. Allowing perishable items to sit at room temperature, especially in warmer climates, can exacerbate the growth of harmful organisms and increase the chance of food poisoning.
  • Separate the raw from the ready-to-eat. When shopping, storing, and preparing food, be sure to keep raw items separate from ready to eat items.Your uncooked meat belongs in a separate drawer from the apples.
  • Wash hands, surfaces, and utensils again. Before handling or preparing food, make sure to wash your hands in warm, soapy water. Any food surfaces or utensils should be washed in hot, soapy water before food prep. Always wash hands and any surfaces or utensils again after handling raw eggs, fish, or meat.
  • Defrost safely (in the fridge). Avoid placing raw meat on the kitchen counter or in the sink to thaw. The best way to defrost food is in the refrigerator. Allowing uncooked food to thaw on the counter or in the sink can increase the presence of foodborne organisms which may lead to food poisoning.
  • Cook to a safe temperature. If you’re uncertain of how long to cook certain foods, use a thermometer. To kill infectious organisms, be sure to cook beef to 160° F, poultry to 165° F, and fish to 145° F. If you’re really skeptical, cook beef, poultry, or fish until no longer raw or pink in the center.
  • Not sure? Toss it. Has that uncooked chicken been sitting in the fridge for a day or so past its use-by date? What about that milk or cream? Does it smell weird? If a food item has been sitting in the fridge too long, smells odd, or looks funny, it’s best to toss it. There’s no sense in taking a chance and possibly contracting food poisoning in the process.

PlushCare provides doctor’s visits from the comfort of your home, office, or wherever you’re located. Our world-class doctors will diagnose, treat, and prescribe you medication. For more information or to book an appointment, visit plushcare.com.


Read More About Food Poisoning


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foods That Can Cause Food Poisoning. Accessed on March 26, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foods-linked-illness.html 

Cleveland Clinic. Food Poisoning: How Long It Lasts + What to Do When You’ve Eaten Something Bad. Accessed on March 26, 2021 at https://health.clevelandclinic.org/food-poisoning-how-long-it-lasts-what-to-do-when-youve-eaten-something-bad/ 

Mayo Clinic. Food poisoning. Accessed on March 26, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20356230

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

Our commitment to you.

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

  • right Tick Image

    Research from sources you can trust

  • right Tick Image

    Medical reviews by field experts

  • right Tick Image

    Frequent content updates

More to learn.

Kidney Infections vs Bladder Infections

Kidney Infections vs Bladder Infections

What is the Difference Between a Bladder Infection and a Kidney Infection? Kidney and bladder infections are both considered urinary…

Sara Menges 8 minutes
Is Shingles Contagious?

Is Shingles Contagious?

What Is Shingles? If you suspect you may be suffering from shingles, you might be worried about passing the painful…

Jennifer Nelson 3 minutes
Kidney Infections Home Remedies

Kidney Infections Home Remedies

Home Remedies for Kidney Infection Untreated kidney infections can turn into recurring kidney infections that lead to complications and disease….

Dr. Hillary Webster 10 minutes