Which physical findings are characteristic of food poisoning?

Updated: Jun 19, 2018
  • Author: Roberto M Gamarra, MD; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Examination of patients suspected of having food poisoning should focus on assessing the severity of dehydration. General findings may include the following:

  • Mild dehydration: A dry mouth, decreased axillary sweat, decreased urine

  • More severe volume depletion: Orthostasis, tachycardia, hypotension

  • Salmonellatyphi infection: Upper abdominal rose spot macules, hepatosplenomegaly

  • Yersinia infection: Erythema nodosum, exudative pharyngitis

  • Vibrio vulnificus or V alginolyticus infection: cellulitis, otitis media

Always perform a rectal examination to (1) directly visualize the stool, (2) test occult blood, and (3) palpate the rectal mucosa for any lesions.

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