Hardly anyone ever anticipates a bout of food poisoning, since the meal itself may look, smell and taste perfectly fine at the time. It's only a few hours or days after ingesting a contaminated food that the worst of the symptoms may appear - vomiting, severe headache, diarrhea, fatigue, gastric distress and the like. In rare cases, serious food poisoning agents such as salmonella, E. coli or botulism can cause severe medical problems for the elderly, young children, or those with compromised immune systems. It is vitally important to treat symptoms of food poisoning as soon as they appear.
One home remedy for suspected food poisoning is complete bedrest. Many cases of food poisoning are caused by parasites or bacteria, which enter the body by the thousands or millions immediately after one ingests contaminated food. As a defense mechanism, your body should begin to send out antibodies to combat the invasion. All of this takes time, however, so victims of food poisoning need to minimize other activities in order to allow the body to heal itself. If you suspect food poisoning, consult a physician for prescription antibiotics and remain in bed for several days.
For many food poisoning sufferers, the symptoms can be harder to handle than the disease itself. Bouts of vomiting, for example, should be followed by rounds of fluid replenishment. The body's natural electrolytes need to be replaced, so victims may want to consume sports drinks or fortified bottled waters. Popsicles and frozen juice bars may also help food poisoning patients to remain hydrated between meals. The effects of vomiting can also be soothed with over-the-counter liquid medications designed to coat the throat and esophagus. Antacid tablets may provide some relief, but they can also slow down the stomach's natural recovery process.
Feelings of nausea can be treated by limiting the victim's diet to clear liquids and soups until the food poisoning event has passed. Some find that saltine crackers or slices of fresh bread can also calm waves of nausea. A room's temperature may also need to be adjusted for maximum comfort, since excessive heat or cold may trigger nausea. Stress can often make nausea worse, so victims may benefit from soothing music and pleasant conversations with visitors.
One of the hallmarks of many food poisoning incidents is chronic diarrhea and bloating. The ingested chemicals, parasites or bacteria often wreak havoc on a victim's entire digestive tract. Normal digestion becomes virtually impossible as the body's fluid levels and bloodstream change to attack the invading organisms. As the bacteria or parasites die off, they often leave acidic or gaseous wastes in their wake. In cases of moderate to severe food poisoning, victims may begin to wonder if they will ever recover their normal digestive function.
Home treatments for diarrhea and bloating should include over-the-counter medications specifically formulated for severe symptoms, meaning 'maximum strength' dosages. The organisms responsible for most food poisoning incidents tend to draw moisture from surrounding tissues into the intestines. This excess fluid prevents the normal formation of solid body wastes. Medications for diarrhea contain ingredients designed to restore the proper balance of fluids in the digestive tract. Until this balance is restored over time, victims should stay hydrated as much as possible.
Possibly the most effective home remedy for food poisoning is prevention. Always keep foods protected from insects and exposure to chemicals. Never use the same cutting board for raw and cooked foods. Keep foods wrapped and refrigerated when not being served immediately. Make sure meats are cooked thoroughly before serving.
Only hire licensed caterers to provide food on a large scale. Always discard spoiled foods, or foods which smell, taste or look noticeably different from other batches. Many incidents of food poisoning are not caused by contaminated foods, but through human mishandling or neglect.