Food poisoning

Food poisoning is caused by eating contaminated food. In most cases the food hasn’t been cooked properly and is contaminated by bacteria such as salmonella or Escherichia coli (E. coli), which are found mainly in meat.

Someone may feel the effects of food poisoning within a few hours, and will often be sick or have diarrhoea. However, in some cases it can take up to three days.

The effects of food poisoning can make someone feel extremely ill. The most important thing is for you to keep encouraging the person to drink water so they don’t get dehydrated. Most people will get better without needing treatment.

What to look for - Food poisoning

If you think someone may have food poisoning, these are the five key things to look for:

  1. Feeling sick
  2. Vomiting, sometimes bloodstained
  3. Stomach cramps
  4. Diarrhoea
  5. Headache or fever

What you need to do - Food poisoning

• If you notice any of these symptoms, tell the person to lie down and rest.

• Give them plenty of water and a bowl to use in case they are sick.

• Encourage them to drink as much water as they can, even if they can only manage regular small sips. If they have diarrhoea, it’s even more important that they drink water to replace lost fluids.

• Giving them an oral rehydration solution is good to way to replace fluids lost through diarrhoea and vomiting. This solution can replace salt and other minerals which they have lost. You can buy it in a pharmacy as a sachet which you dissolve in water.

• If the person gets worse, then advise them to call their doctor or call 999 or 112 for emergency medical help.

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