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How to Deal with Food Poisoning: First Aid and Tips

Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, MD · Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Vincent Sales · Updated May 05, 2021

    How to Deal with Food Poisoning: First Aid and Tips

    Food is fuel for people: It gives you the energy and strength you need for the day. What’s more, how healthy you are depends, in many ways, on how healthy you eat. That is why it is essential to prepare and handle food properly to keep it fresh and prevent contamination. If you are not careful, you might consume contaminated food and suffer from foodborne illness, which is more commonly known as food poisoning. In such cases, food poisoning first aid is critical to avoid risks to your health.

    What Are the Causes of Food Poisoning?

    Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating food contaminated with infectious organisms — these include parasites, viruses and bacteria. 

    Food ingredients can be contaminated during p

    • Improper food preparation
    • Production
    • Food handling
    • Contamination can also happen with undercooked food or through using utensils, knives, or chopping boards for both meat and vegetables.
    • Food is incorrectly stored in the refrigerator

    Signs and Symptoms

    Symptoms of food poisoning may develop within 5 to 72 hours after infection. Although signs and symptoms may vary depending on the source of contamination, the most common symptoms of food poisoning are the following:

    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Stomach pain and cramps
    • Fever (temperature of 37.8 and above)
    • Watery or bloody diarrhea

    Anyone suffering from these symptoms is at risk of dehydration. One way to manage moderate symptoms is to give proper food poisoning first aid and treatment.

    Food Poisoning First Aid

    Some symptoms of food poisoning are manageable at home. Here are some steps to take in food poisoning first aid:

  • As nausea and stomach cramps worsen, advise the patient to rest, lie down and let their stomach settle.
  • If the patient is vomiting, it is important to encourage them to take water to prevent dehydration.
  • If the patient also suffers from diarrhea, it is even more important to replace lost fluids and salts. Give them ORS (oral rehydration solution) to replenish lost fluids.
  • If the vomiting eases and the patient feels hungry again, advise them to eat bland, light and easily digested food. Try bananas, toast or crackers. Steer clear from caffeine, alcohol, or fizzy drinks. In addition, avoid dairy products (these cause bloating and diarrhea in some) and oily food.
  • Watch over and observe the patient in case the symptoms get worse.
  • Banana for Diarrhea: An Effective Treatment at Home?

    When You Should See Your Doctor

    Some mild food poisoning conditions can be treated and managed at home. But you need to see the doctor immediately if you see these signs:

    • The nausea and vomiting has lasted for more than 24 hours.
    • The patient is feeling weak alongside severe vomiting and nausea.
    • The patient suffers from any of food poisoning symptoms accompanied by high fever (exceeding 102 degrees Fahrenheit).
    • He or she is having severe diarrhea and/or contains blood.

    If you suspect food poisoning has occurred to a child, a pregnant woman, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system, do not wait for 24 hours. Take them to an emergency room immediately.

    Key Takeaways

    Food poisoning can be an unpleasant experience and there are certain health risks involved. For most people, if given proper first aid and treatment, the illness resolves after a day or two. But for some, it can be dangerous or even deadly if not properly treated.

    To avoid food poisoning, make it a habit to check and double-check your food. Take extra precautions when serving food to a child, the elderly, or those who are pregnant. Observe proper hygiene and keep everything clean. Always make sure you and your family will enjoy a clean and safe meal.

    Learn more about Infectious Diseases here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mia Dacumos, MD

    Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

    Written by Vincent Sales · Updated May 05, 2021

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