How is food poisoning treated?

Updated: Jun 19, 2018
  • Author: Roberto M Gamarra, MD; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Because most cases of acute gastroenteritis are self-limited, specific treatment is not necessary. Strict personal hygiene should be practiced during the illness. Some studies have quantified that only 10% of cases require antibiotic therapy.

The main objective is adequate rehydration and electrolyte supplementation. This can be achieved with either an oral rehydration solution (ORS) or intravenous solutions (eg, isotonic sodium chloride solution, lactated Ringer solution). Note the following:

  • Oral rehydration is achieved by administering clear liquids and sodium-containing and glucose-containing solutions. A simple ORS may be composed of 1 level teaspoon of salt and 4 heaping teaspoons of sugar added to 1 liter of water.

  • The use of ORS has reduced the mortality rate associated with cholera from higher than 50% to less than 1%.

  • ORS also is indicated in other dehydrating diarrheal diseases.

  • ORS promotes cotransport of glucose, sodium, and water across the gut epithelium, a mechanism unaffected in cholera.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a solution containing 3.5 g of sodium chloride, 2.5 g of sodium bicarbonate, 1.5 g of potassium chloride, and 20 g of glucose per liter of water.

Intravenous solutions are indicated in patients who are severely dehydrated or who have intractable vomiting.

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