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  » First Aid  »  Food Poisoning
Food poisoning may be caused by eating foods contaminated by bacteria or their toxins or, less commonly, a substance normally found in the food itself, as in certain mushrooms, plants, or some fish.

Proper preparation and refrigeration of food will prevent most cases of food poisoning.

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea, usually within a few hours after eating the offending food
  • General weakness and malaise
  • In many cases, the source of discomfort is eliminated from the body by vomiting or diarrhea. So if these occur when food poisoning is suspected, they should not be stopped. In some cases, it is desirable to induce vomiting, but frequently induction of vomiting does not help—symptoms usually strike after the food has already left the stomach and cannot be brought back up.
  • Try to identify the source of the poisoning. If it is mushrooms or canned food, take the person to an emergency room without delay. If there are any nervous system symptoms such as difficulty in speaking or swallowing, visual changes, paralysis, or breathing difficulties, the person should also be taken to a hospital as quickly as possible.
  • If vomiting or diarrhea is severe or prolonged, watch for signs of dehydration. Offer the person fluids, but do not allow her to eat. Antidiarrheal medication may be prescribed by a doctor if diarrhea is persistent but most often is not indicated if fluid intake is adequate.
  • Call a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room if the symptoms persist or are severe or are accompanied by fever, continual, localized abdominal pain, blood in the vomit or stool, or abdominal distention.