By Annie Zimmer, M.D.
It can happen anywhere – in a restaurant, at home, in the car. Suddenly your child complains of a stomachache or feeling ill, and the next thing you know, you're rushing them to the bathroom.
Food poisoning is a common ailment caused by bacteria or a virus infecting your food or drink. Some of these bacteria or viruses release toxins/poisons into the body, hence the name food poisoning. Food poisoning can normally be treated at home and passes within a day or so.
What Causes Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning typically stems from animal-based foods such as dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry or seafood. Food can be contaminated at any stage in the food process.
There are several common germs that can cause food poisoning in certain foods.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Symptoms typically emerge within a few hours of being infected, but may also take more time to become evident. They typically clear up within one to 10 days. Symptoms include:
The most serious side effect of food poisoning is
dehydration, which is caused by fluid loss due to diarrhea or vomiting. If dehydration becomes severe, IV fluid treatment may be necessary. Your child may be dehydrated if he or she is exhibiting:
Treatment for Food Poisoning
Your physician will ask for a recent eating history and may take samples of blood, stool or urine to check for specific bacteria. More severe cases may call for antibiotics, but food poisoning usually runs its course with no emergency medical assistance needed. You can typically use the following at-home treatments to help your child recover:
Food Poisoning Prevention
There are several steps you can take to avoid food poisoning in your family.