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First Aid for Foodborne Illness

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

James Palinsad

Foodborne Illnesses are caused by consumption of food contaminated by common pathogens, like virus, bacteria, parasite, fungi, certain toxins, and chemicals.

What is Foodborne Illness?

  • Foodborne Illnesses are caused by consumption of food contaminated by common pathogens, such as virus, bacteria, parasite, fungi, certain toxins, and chemicals
  • This can result in an upset stomach leading to fluid loss from the body. In most cases, with proper medication and rest, Foodborne Illness can be successfully treated

What are the Causes of Foodborne Illness?

A few cause factors for Foodborne Illness include:

  • Food prepared under unhygienic conditions
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Consuming partially cooked or raw meat
  • Contamination of food with chemicals, used as manure
  • Improperly refrigerated foods

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Foodborne Illness?

The signs and symptoms of Foodborne Illness may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal distention, cramps, and pain
  • Early satiety; feeling of fullness
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness, in cases of moderate to severe dehydration

How is First Aid administered for Foodborne Illness?

First Aid tips for Foodborne Illness include:

  • Take adequate rest
  • Take plenty of fluids
  • Bismuth-subsalicylate (Pepto-bismol) drug may help
  • Replacing the lost fluids and electrolytes is the key. Ceralyte, pedialyte and oralyte are some oral rehydration solutions available,over the counter
  • Sports drinks do not always replace lost electrolytes in diarrheal illness
  • DO NOT take anti-diarrheal medications, if fever or blood in stools is noted
  • Seek medical assistance, if the condition worsens or does not improve

Who should administer First Aid for Foodborne Illness?

The individual experiencing the Foodborne Illness or someone near the affected person may administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Foodborne Illness?

The prognosis depends on underlying cause, but is usually good with timely intervention.

How can Foodborne Illness be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Foodborne Illnesses:

  • Following strict hygiene, when processing and handling food
  • Washing hand frequently, especially after using the restroom, and before eating food
  • Using pasteurized milk
  • Cooking food/meat to the recommended temperatures
  • Refrigerating food to the required temperature

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Replacing lost fluids and electrolytes with oral rehydrating solutions
  • Take ample rest

Seek appropriate medical attention if:

  • Symptoms persists for more than 3 days
  • High fever, more than 101.5 deg. F (measured orally)
  • Persistent vomiting, which prevents oral fluid intake
  • Blood in stools, with or without recent antibiotic use
  • Decreased urination, lightheadedness, dizziness, and dry mouth, which indicates dehydration

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 17, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018