Home Remedies for Food Poisoning

© 2007 Publications International, Ltd.
© 2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Food poisoning can strike anywhere.

The company's annual 4th of July barbecue started out a huge success. The ribs were superb. The potato salad was excellent. Even Helen's famous coleslaw got rave reviews. But about the time the sun went down, people started sprinting in all directions, and they weren't running in the three-legged race. Most of them were headed for the nearest bathroom. Food poisoning claims another round of victims.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there will be about 76 million cases of food poisoning this year. It's an estimate because most cases of food poisoning go unreported, chalked up to the stomach flu or another bug. Even though the United States has strict guidelines when it comes to processing and handling food, there is always a risk of some food becoming contaminated. Ironically, though many cases of food poisoning do happen in restaurants, the most common place for foodborne illnesses to strike is your kitchen.

How Spoiled Food Makes You Feel

The symptoms you have after eating a pork chop laden with bad bacteria can range from mild (a few stomach cramps) to severe (you spend a couple of days camped out on the bathroom floor). Many people describe food poisoning as akin to being hit by a very large truck. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting.

Because most of the symptoms of food poisoning are similar to those of other illnesses, such as a stomach virus, people aren't always sure food is the problem. If you think you've got food poisoning but aren't sure, take note: Most people get sick about 4 to 48 hours after eating the suspect food. And if you got sick, chances are everyone else who ate a contaminated chop will be sick, too.

Foiling Food Poisoning

Of course, prevention is always the best medicine, and the smartest way to treat food poisoning is to avoid getting it in the first place. Although you can't control the conditions in the restaurants you patronize, you can take several precautions at home by following these tips:

  • Keep mixed foods, such as salads with mayonnaise dressing and foods that contain dairy products, refrigerated.
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
  • Stuff turkeys or roasts just before cooking -- or cook the stuffing separately.
  • Keep perishable foods cold.
  • Cook chicken, pork, and beef very thoroughly.
  • Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with very hot water and soap after handling meat or eggs.

To learn more about battling stomach ailments, visit these links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Home Remedy Treatments for Food Poisoning

Vomiting and diarrhea may deplete your body's supply of potassium, which may leave you feeling even worse.

If you're unlucky enough to come down with food poisoning, you can bet you'll be down for the count for about 24 hours. The following home remedies may help minimize your discomfort and shorten the duration of your symptoms.

Replace your body's fluids. If your stomach will tolerate it, be sure to keep taking liquids, especially if you have diarrhea. Try eating gelatin or drinking decaffeinated soda, tea with sugar, or water.

Avoid rich or spicy foods. When your stomach is feeling irritated, eating fatty or highly seasoned foods may send you right back to the bathroom. If you feel hungry, it's probably best to stick with clear liquids, plain toast, mashed potatoes, bananas, or other bland foods.

Replace your potassium. Vomiting and diarrhea may deplete your body's supply of potassium, which may leave you feeling even worse. An extreme potassium imbalance can even be fatal. Twenty-four hours after your symptoms started (and hopefully when you're feeling a bit better), replenish your potassium stores with a sports drink or a banana.

 

Go with the flow -- literally. If you've been poisoned by contaminated food and your digestive system is reacting with diarrhea or vomiting, you can trust your body's impulses. Don't reach for medications, because they will only interfere with your body's own defenses, which include expelling the invader.

Be careful with pain medications. Some people make the mistake of taking prescription or over-the-counter pain medications to reduce the discomfort of intestinal cramps. These drugs--especially those containing aspirin or ibuprofen--may irritate the gastrointestinal tract and increase discomfort. For a list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter analgesics, click here.

Try a hot-water bottle. A not-too-hot hot-water bottle placed on the abdomen may help ease the pain of cramps.

Hibernate for a day. There's really not a whole lot you can do to end your misery; just be good to yourself and wait it out. Cancel your plans, rest, and take solace in the fact that it will pass in 24 hours or so.

You might want to avoid the kitchen when you're in the grip of food poisoning, but there are many foods and fluids that will help you recover more quickly. Go to the next page to learn more.

To learn more about battling stomach ailments, visit these links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Natural Home Remedies for Food Poisoning

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. After you've suffered from food poisoning, wait a few days before you eat hard-to-digest foods.

You won't feel like eating when you're recovering from a bout of food poisoning, but you need to stay hydrated and replace the nutrients your body is losing. These natural home remedies should help you bounce back as quickly as possible.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Bleach. Scrubbing your counter with warm soapy water and bleach is one of your best defenses against bacteria that tend to hover on countertops. It's a good idea to clean your cutting boards in a bleach and water solution: Try soaking them in a mixture of 2 teaspoons bleach to 1 quart water. Let the boards air dry.

Chicken soup. Once you start feeling a bit better, start your stomach out with bland foods. Chicken soup is tasty and easy to digest.

Sugar. Sugar helps your body hold onto fluid, and adding a spoonful of sugar to a glass of water or a cup of decaffeinated tea may be more palatable if you find sports drinks too sugary.

Home Remedies from the Fruit Bowl

Banana. As you spend more time embracing the porcelain throne, your body is losing essential elements like potassium. Losing these vital nutrients can make that I've-been-hit-by-a-truck feeling worse. Once you've come to a lull in the bathroom visitations, usually after the first 24 hours, try eating a banana. It's easy on your stomach and can make you feel a bit better.

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Sports drinks. Losing all that fluid means you're losing electrolytes (salts that keep your body functioning properly) and water. Replacing that fluid with a sports drink will help replace needed electrolytes, and the sugar in the drink will help your body better absorb the fluid it needs. If the sugar is too much for your tummy, tone the drink down by diluting it with water.

Water. You may not feel like having anything pass your lips, but you've got to stay hydrated, especially when you are losing fluids from both ends. Start off with a few sips of this easy-to-swallow liquid and work your way up to more substantial stuff.

More Do's and Don'ts

  • Don't start back on foods that are hard to digest. Give your stomach and your intestines time to recuperate. Stay away from spicy, smoked, fried, or salty foods. Stay away from raw vegetables or rich pastries or candies, and don't drink alcohol.
  • Tell the health department about your woes. Telling your story may keep others from experiencing the same problems, especially if you experienced food poisoning after eating at a restaurant or other food establishment.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food. You don't want to be like Typhoid Mary and pass your illness to everyone in the household.

To learn more about battling stomach ailments, visit these links:

Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.