Reduce Food Poisoning Symptoms

  • Get in bed and keep warm. Resting enhances recovery. Make sure you have easy access to a bedpan or bathroom.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Diarrhea and vomiting function to clear the toxins out of your system, but they can result in a substantial loss of body fluids. To prevent dehydration from developing, drink six to eight ounces of clear fluids per hour throughout the day. These can include water, tea with sugar, bouillon, or any of the commercially prepared sports drinks. If vomiting continues and you can’t keep anything down, try to take small sips or suck on ice chips. For children: Have a child with food poisoning drink five ounces of clear liquids per hour; infants should drink at least one ounce per hour.
  • Apply heat. If you have stomach pain or cramps you may get some relief by placing a heating pad (on the low setting) or a hot water bottle on your abdomen.
  • Reintroduce foods gradually. After your symptoms diminish, gradually reintroduce soft and easily digested foods such as cooked cereal, bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, potatoes, eggs, and noodles. Once the diarrhea has stopped and your appetite increases, you can return to your normal diet.
  • Avoid milk and milk-based products for several days after diarrhea has subsided. This will allow the enzymes in the small intestine—needed to handle the lactose contained in milk and milk-based products—to be replenished.

Beyond Home Remedies: When To Call Your Doctor

Contact your physician immediately if you develop any of the following: sudden and severe diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, or a fever of 100°F or higher.

Certain people need medical attention if they develop mild symptoms of food poisoning. These include the elderly, young children, heavy antacid users, pregnant women, people with diabetes, alcoholics, or anyone with a weakened immune system. These people are at greater risk of life-threatening complications.

Also contact your physician if symptoms of mild food poisoning don’t subside in a week.

What Your Doctor Will Do

After taking a personal history, your physician will try to identify the source of the food poisoning. Laboratory cultures of vomit, feces, and blood may be taken. Suspected foods will also be examined for contaminants. If you have botulism, you will be given a prescription medication. If you have severe vomiting and diarrhea, you may be given medication to stop them.

What If You Do Nothing?

Most cases of food poisoning are not serious and recovery usually occurs within three days without any medical care. However, the disease can be fatal if the treatment of a serious food poisoning case is delayed. Symptoms to be concerned about include the following.

  • bloody diarrhea or pus in the stool (possible Campylobacter or Shigella infection).
  • headache, stiff neck, and fever (possible Listeria monocytogenes infection).
  • rapid heart rate or dizziness after standing up suddenly, when accompanied by vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea (possible dehydration).
  • tingling in the arms and legs, sometimes around the mouth, blurred vision, weakness, or numbness (possible botulism poisoning).


The Complete Home Wellness Handbook

John Edward Swartzberg, M.D., F.A.C.P., Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the editors of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 11 Sep 2011

Last Modified: 15 Sep 2015