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Food poisoning treatment, diagnosis & prescriptions

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What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning, also called food-borne illness, is a condition resulting from ingesting foods that are contaminated with harmful organisms.

These harmful organisms can be bacteria, viruses, or parasites. The toxins they produce can also cause harm. There are different types of food poisoning, which can range from mild or asymptomatic cases to dangerous or even life-threatening illnesses that require hospitalization.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

Common food poisoning symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Loose or watery stool
  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Fevers and chills

These food poisoning signs aren’t a cause for concern. However, you should seek medical attention if you begin to experience:

  • Bloody diarrhea or vomit
  • Extreme abdominal cramping or pain
  • Diarrhea for longer than 72 hours
  • Inability to keep food or liquids down
  • Uncontrollable or frequent vomiting
  • Symptoms of dehydration (severe weakness, light-headedness, dizziness, inability to urinate, excessive thirst or dry mouth)

Moreover, if you’re experiencing a food poisoning fever, meaning an oral temperature over 100.4 F, you should consult a doctor immediately.

What causes food poisoning?

Direct food poisoning causes vary depending on the organism that was consumed.

In most cases, food poisoning results from contamination of food during its production, storage, or preparation.

Some bacteria known to cause food poisoning can grow if food is left at unsafe temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Viruses and parasites typically contaminate food if it’s handled with improper sanitization procedures. Cross-contamination can also occur with other raw foods during the production process or while cooking.

Many of these organisms can be killed before ingesting the food by ensuring it’s fully-cooked and kept at safe holding temperatures before eating.

How is food poisoning treated?

The type of food poisoning treatment suggested by a doctor on Maple usually depends on the type of organism that caused the condition, which can’t always be determined, and the severity of your symptoms.

Mild food poisoning can typically be treated with rest, drinking lots of clear fluids to help avoid dehydration, and eating bland foods.

Severe food poisoning may require medication to help alleviate symptoms. Antibiotics can also be required if the doctor believes the food poisoning was caused by harmful bacteria.

Can food poisoning cause seizures?

Although it’s very rare compared to other food poisoning symptoms, food poisoning can cause seizures or paralysis in some cases. This typically occurs after ingesting certain types of poisonous mushrooms or plants, or contaminated fish or shellfish.

In these rare cases, the seizure is caused by the body having a severe reaction to the toxins released from the contaminated organism.

If this occurs, you should go to the ER and seek medical attention immediately.

What is the difference between food poisoning and stomach flu?

Typically, the most noticeable difference between a stomach flu and food poisoning is the amount of time between contamination and the appearance of symptoms.

A stomach flu can take days to fully develop and is more likely to cause symptoms such as projectile vomiting and severe stomach cramps. Some forms of mild food poisoning can also cause these symptoms.

Severe food poisoning is more likely to cause symptoms such as dehydration and bloody diarrhea or vomit.

How long does food poisoning take to kick in?

The amount of time it takes for food poisoning symptoms to appear depends on the type of organism that is causing the condition.

While some types of food poisoning can appear in as little as two hours, others can take days or even weeks to fully develop. Most commonly, food poisoning symptoms will appear between 6 to 24 hours after eating contaminated food.

What should you do if you have food poisoning?

For those experiencing mild food poisoning, the best way to combat symptoms is to rest, drink lots of clear fluids to help avoid dehydration, and avoid eating foods that are spicy, greasy, or may irritate your stomach. The symptoms should pass naturally within 24 to 48 hours.

If you believe you’re experiencing a more severe bout of food poisoning, you should talk to a doctor on Maple. They can help you determine the best course of action to reduce your symptoms, including medication that may be necessary to help your body fight off the organism causing your illness.

What is Maple?

With Maple, you can start talking to a doctor about your symptoms in a matter of minutes. We’re a healthcare platform for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors.

Simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll immediately connect you to a doctor via live chat or video. You can visit our How it Works page to learn more.

Our doctors can assess symptoms and provide treatment, including prescriptions, as necessary.

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