First Aid Training - Food poisoning

Introduction

Food poisoning is usually caused by consuming food or drink that is contaminated with bacteria or viruses. Some food poisoning is caused by poisons (toxins) from bacteria already in the food. The salmonella or E. coli group of bacteria, which are found mainly in meat, are common causes of food poisoning.

Symptoms may develop rapidly (within hours), or they may not occur until a day or so after eating contaminated food.

Toxic food poisoning is frequently caused by poisons produced by the staphylococcus group of bacteria. Symptoms usually develop rapidly, possibly with two to six hours of eating the affected food.

One of the dangers of food poisoning is loss of body fluids. The dehydration that results from this fluid loss can be serious if the fluids are not replaced quickly enough. Dehydration is especially serious in the very young and the very old, and, in some cases, treatment may be required in hospital.

Recognition features

There may be:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Cramping abdominal pains.
  • Diarrhoea (possibly bloodstained).
  • Headache or fever.
  • Features of shock.
  • Impaired consciousness.

Your aims

  • To encourage the casualty to rest.
  • To give the casualty plenty of bland fluids to drink.
  • To seek medical help if necessary .

Treatment

  • Advise the casualty to lie down and rest. Help them if necessary.
  • Give the casualty plenty of bland fluids to drink and a bowl to use if they vomit.
  • Call a doctor for advice.

If the casualty's condition worsens:

  • Dial 999 for an ambulance.
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