First aid: I have food poisoning

The scenario

In the hours following the meal, you have a stomach ache, you have diarrhea, or even vomiting. Do other guests experience the same ailments? One of the foods has probably been contaminated with a toxin produced by bacteria. Come to think of it, the meat stayed out for a long time waiting for the barbecue or you might not have eaten this ham whose expiration date was well past. If you are traveling, it is surely the water that has poisoned you, via a salmonella or enterovirus type germ.

Alarm signals

– A fever above 38.5 ° C.

– More than ten bowel movements a day.

– Blood or mucus in the stool.

Do not hesitate to consult in any case if you are one of the fragile people: diabetic, on corticosteroids, heart or kidney problems …

The right reflex

Drink 1.5 to 2 liters during the day, in small sips, to avoid dehydration. Put your stomach at rest for 48 hours, consuming mainly starchy foods (pasta, rice, potatoes). You can take an antiemetic (Vogalene® / Vogalib lyoc®), in case of strong nausea and repeated vomiting, and an antispasmodic such as Spasfon® if you have severe stomach pain. Intestinal antiseptics are unnecessary.

Should we go to the emergency room?

Yes if the pain, diarrhea or fever is very severe. In this case, you can, if necessary, receive a rehydration infusion. But most of the time, in this type of situation, the poisoning goes on its own, in two to seven days. In case of fever or if the diarrhea does not subside after 24 hours, consult your GP first, who may prescribe an antidiarrhoeal such as Imodium® (to be avoided without medical advice).

Is it serious doctor ?

The main risk concerns dehydration, especially in the elderly. In immunocompromised people, intoxication can take a more severe form and affect other organs (renal failure for example), or even lead to sepsis. Finally, if you already suffer from functional digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease, food poisoning can worsen your symptoms in the months that follow.

Thanks to Dr Philippe Godeberge, gastroenterologist.


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