In a lot of cases, you can treat yourself at home, and you won’t need a doctor to diagnose the condition. If it is mild, your symptoms should ease after a couple of days to a week.
However, if your symptoms are severe, if you do not start to recover after a couple of days, if you are showing signs of dehydration or are in an at-risk group (we’ll cover this later), you should see a GP.
How our doctors diagnose food poisoning
Our doctors will ask you about the symptoms that you are experiencing, how long you’ve had them and what you think caused it.
This is likely to include questions about what you ate before your symptoms started to appear. They may also ask whether or not you have you been abroad recently too. This will help them establish what is causing your food poisoning and whether you need treatment.
As we mentioned above, often, your symptoms can be managed at home. However, if your food poisoning is severe, lasts more than a few days, or if you are in an at-risk group, it is important that you see a doctor.
In severe cases, stools tests or blood tests may be required to find out what has caused your food poisoning. If it is bacterial, antibiotics can be prescribed, or you may be referred to a specialist for further investigation.
If the food poisoning is causing you to vomit a lot, meaning you are unable to keep any food or drink in your stomach, you may be prescribed anti-emetics, which help you stop being sick.
In some cases, you may have to go to hospital to be monitored for a few days, particularly if you are at risk of dehydration. If this is the case, it is likely that you will be given an intravenous drip to help re-hydrate you.
Some types of food poisoning can cause potentially serious complications, particularly in people who are in the at-risk group, which includes if:
- You are pregnant
- You are over the age of 60
- You have another medical condition which makes you more vulnerable to infection, such as diabetes
- It is a baby or child showing signs of food poisoning
Babies and children are particularly at risk of dehydration due to their low body weight, so it is very important to look out for any symptoms of this.