Food poisoning treatment available online today

In order to treat your food poisoning, consult with one of our board-certified primary care doctors online today to get help with your stomach issues.

Book an appointment

Food poisoning diagnosis and treatment online

Relief from abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea

Discuss how to manage your food poisoning symptoms*

*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor's discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how to save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of food poisoning. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person testing and treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about food poisoning

Food poisoning is a temporary and usually self-limited illness caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites contained in food. Food poisoning is very common and occurs in about 48 million people every year. Food poisoning is commonly mistaken for stomach flu or gastritis but has specific causes and symptoms that differ from gastritis.

Very young babies, older adults, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are more at risk of complications caused by food poisoning. Those with weakened immune systems are more at risk to catch foodborne germs.

Food poisoning causes

  • Types of infection

    Food poisoning is mostly caused by bacteria. The most common bacteria that cause food poisoning include Salmonella, campylobacter, listeria, and E. coli. These germs contaminate food in different ways. Germs can live on or inside the food. If not cleaned or cooked properly, germs may still be on or inside the food you eat, causing illness. People who do not wash their hands, and then prepare food can spread the germs that cause food poisoning

    Foods can contaminate one another on cutting boards such as cutting fresh vegetables on a designated meat cutting board. 

    Sometimes parasites contaminate food causing illness. Parasites are organisms that cause illness and are usually found in contaminated water or food. Common parasites that can cause food poisoning in the United States include Giardia and Cryptosporidium. 

    Foodborne illnesses can be caused by many types of germs. Bacterial and viral causes of food poisoning are the most common causes of contamination in this country. Food poisoning can be caused by infections such as:

    • Typhoid fever (more common outside of the United States)

    • Campylobacter, Salmonella, Clostridium or E. Coli bacterial infections

    • Listeria

    • Shigella

    • Giardia

    • Cryptosporidium

Food poisoning symptoms

When you think of food poisoning, your mind automatically goes to your digestive system. It is no surprise that common food poisoning symptoms are related to the gastrointestinal tract.

How to treat food poisoning

Food poisoning typically will run its course. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own within a few days, but if symptoms persist or you do not feel well, make an appointment to speak with your doctor. Depending on your situation and symptoms, food poisoning can be treated with oral fluid rehydration, anti-nausea medicines, anti-diarrhea medicines, and time. If your symptoms are severe, you may be advised to seek care in person for IV fluids or antibiotics.

If you are able to eat or drink, try bland foods such as the BRAT diet. The BRAT diet consists of bland food items like bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Soup broths and tea may also be tolerable, as well as small low-fat meals. An important part of staying hydrated is frequent but small sips of light liquids.

Feeling sick can affect the amount of food you eat and the liquids you drink. The infected person may not even be able to suck on ice chips because of their nausea. If you are having multiple episodes of diarrhea and vomiting, it is important to replace lost fluids and prevent or treat dehydration. Mild dehydration can be managed at home with frequent small sips of clear or light-colored fluids such as water, Pedialyte, soup broth and tea, but severe dehydration can be life-threatening and requires medical treatment.

Antibiotics are rarely used to treat food poisoning, since most cases clear up on their own. In some situations, antibiotics can cause more serious infections by killing off the normal bacteria in our gut and creating an opportunity for dangerous bacteria to take their place. Other dangerous side effects of antibiotics during food poisoning episodes include hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause severe kidney disease. However, sometimes antibiotics are necessary to clear an infection before it gets worse, particularly in people over the age of 70, people who are pregnant, or people with chronic heart disease or compromised immune systems. Oftentimes, stool testing is recommended prior to starting antibiotics to make sure the correct antibiotic is chosen. There are some exceptions when antibiotics may be started without stool testing, such as recent exposure to Cholera or recent antibiotic use for other conditions causing suspected Clostridium difficile diarrhea illness. People who are pregnant with symptoms of Listeria may also benefit from early antibiotic treatment.

How to prevent food poisoning

Food safety is crucial in preventing food poisoning. Food safety is centered around food purchasing, storage, preparation, cooking, and serving. Not following standard guidelines for food safety can lead to food poisoning. Handle food in a clean environment, with clean utensils, and with clean hands. Handling raw meat and undercooked beef, pork or chicken are common food practices that can spread harmful bacteria.

The following are guidelines to help prevent food poisoning:

  • Do not buy or eat canned food items that are dented, cracked, or bulging.

  • Put leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours after cooking them.

  • Carefully wash all fruits and vegetables with clean water.

  • Avoid eating raw meat, undercooked ground beef, undercooked poultry, or raw shellfish.

  • Avoid eating raw eggs.

  • Avoid eating soft cheeses or unpasteurized milk, especially if pregnant.

  • Eat foods that are prepared in a restaurant that is certified by the local health department.

  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure that food is at safe temperatures.

  • Serve cooked foods on clean plates with clean forks, spoons, and knives.

When to see a doctor for food poisoning

Notify your doctor if you have 6 or more watery stools in 24 hours, have blood in your vomit or in your diarrhea, have a fever higher than 101.3, have severe stomach cramps, or are not able to drink enough liquids to prevent dehydration. These can be signs of a serious illness. In such cases, over-the-counter medications might not be enough to manage your symptoms or prevent dehydration. In some cases, trying to manage severe food poisoning with over-the-counter medication can worsen symptoms; this is especially true if a high fever or blood is present. Eating contaminated food can cause serious foodborne illness and adverse health conditions.

Related conditions to food poisoning

  • Stomach flu

    Food poisoning and stomach flu share similar symptoms. These two are often used interchangeably, but not always correctly. Stomach flu is caused by a virus, usually norovirus or enteric adenovirus, and spread directly from one person to another. Food poisoning is typically caused by bacteria or parasites on or inside contaminated food that are then eaten and cause illness.

    Abdominal pain and discomfort

    Abdominal pain and cramping are early warning signs that something is wrong. Abdominal pain and discomfort are seen in many illnesses, so it is important to speak with a doctor about your symptoms.


    Gastritis is a term used to describe any inflammation in the lining of the stomach causing injury to those stomach tissues. Gastritis can be caused by many things including food-borne infections, viruses, H. pylori infection or inflammatory bowel disease.

Food poisoning treatment FAQs

  • What is the best treatment for food poisoning?

    Taking in enough fluids and eating very small bland meals is the best treatment for food poisoning. Oral rehydration salts and fluids such as Pedialyte, broth and tea can be used for mild dehydration caused by food poisoning. 

  • What is the best medicine to treat food poisoning?

    Drink plenty of fluids and try to rest. If symptoms do not improve in 24 hours, make an appointment to see an online primary care doctor from the comfort of your home. 

  • How do I know if it’s a stomach virus or food poisoning?

    Although the symptoms of stomach flu and food poisoning can overlap, the primary indicator of which you have will be the timing of symptoms and when you ate the suspected food or water source of your symptoms.

    Viral stomach flu will incubate for roughly 24-48 hours after exposure to the virus, whereas food poisoning can be much faster at 2-6 hours after eating contaminated food, although in some cases symptoms can take 24 hours or even as long as 7 days to appear depending upon the cause of the infection. Many cases of the stomach flu resolve in a few days, with more prolonged cases lasting up to 10 days. Most food poisoning cases last only for a day or two. Diarrhea may take a few days longer than the vomiting to resolve, but as long as symptoms are slowly getting better over time, then there’s usually nothing to worry about.

  • How long does it take to recover from food poisoning?

    Food poisoning recovery usually takes 1 to 2 days, although it may take a few more days for bowel movements to return to normal.

  • How do I know if I had food poisoning?

    If you have new onset of vomiting, diarrhea, fever or belly pain 2 to 6 hours after eating possibly contaminated food or drink, then it is likely that you have food poisoning. 

  • How quickly does food poisoning kick in?

    Food poisoning kicks in quickly after you eat. Typically you will begin to feel uncomfortable symptoms about 2-6 hours after you eat the contaminated food or drink. In some situations, depending on the germ causing food poisoning, it may take longer for symptoms to develop.

3 simple steps to request treatment for food poisoning today

Step 1

Book a food poisoning treatment appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2

Talk to your board-certified primary care doctor regarding your food poisoning symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3

Get a care plan from your doctor. Pick up a prescription to treat food poisoning, if recommended by your doctor.

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.

Food poisoning treatment pricing details

How pricing works

To request food poisoning treatment, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits

Paying with insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

Book an appointment

If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.

Food poisoning treatment resources


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

PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site 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.