Food Poisoning 101: Commonly Asked Questions For Parents

April 22, 2015


Mother bringing fried chicken to children at the dinner table at home in the kitchen

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is inflammation of the stomach and intestine caused by bacteria from food. While you can’t see the bacteria, they often can have a huge effect on the body.

What causes food poisoning?
Many different types of bacteria can cause food poisoning. For example,

  • E.Coli
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella

Food poisoning often occurs from eating or drinking:

  • Food prepared by someone who did not wash their hands properly
  • Food prepared using unclean cooking utensils, cutting boards or other tools
  • Dairy products or food containing mayonnaise that’s been out of the refrigerator too long
  • Frozen or refrigerated foods that are not stored at the proper temperature or are not reheated properly
  • Raw fish or oysters
  • Raw fruits or vegetables that have not been washed well
  • Undercooked meats or eggs

What are the main symptoms of food poisoning?
While symptoms depend on the type of bacteria causing the sicknesses, most of them include diarrhea. Other symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Blood in the stool

What’s the best way to treat food poisoning?

  • It’s important to make sure your child is drinking lots of clear fluids to help stay hydrated. Water is the best.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day, instead of three big meals.
  • Eat salty foods, such as pretzels.
  • Over-the-counter drinks such as Pedialyte, Infalyte, or Gatorade for older kids might also help.

Call your pediatrician or urgent care if:

  • The stool appears bloody, black, or tarry
  • There is diarrhea with a fever above 100.4 degrees
  • The diarrhea does not get better within two days
  • Stomach pain does not go away after a bowel movement
  • You suspect symptoms of dehydration
  • Your child over three months old has been vomiting for more than 12 hours

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