Food poisoning is extremely debilitating even when you are home, let alone on holiday.
The first signs of food poisoning can be feeling overfull and bilious as your stomach bloats and feels unsettled or even full of water. You may also have a headache, feel shivery or feverish, and have stomach cramps.
Food poisoning can start as soon as four hours after eating – or may take days or even a week to develop.
Some of the main gastrointestinal infections which cause sickness and diarrhea so typical of food poisoning are:
- E. coli
- Shigella sonnei.
Many cases of food poisoning will clear up on their own and over-the-counter medications like domperidone and loperamide can help stop episodes of sickness and diarrhea.
Some anti-sickness medications can make you feel sleepy, so if you need to remain alert, ask your pharmacist or GP for a drug that does not cause drowsiness.
It is important to keep drinking water to stay hydrated, although sip this as even water can cause another bout of vomiting.
Ginger and licorice e are natural remedies for sickness – and ginger capsules are available from health food stores and can be used to make a ginger tea. People on blood-thinning medications should not use ginger, however.
Your first instinct with sickness may be to suck mints, but peppermint can cause nausea and vomiting, so use sparingly.
You may not feel at all like eating when you have food poisoning and going without food for 24 hours is normal in severe cases – but after 24 hours, you must try and eat again. Here are some tips on regaining your appetite after food poisoning:
- A piece of dry toast, a cracker, or even a baby rusk like Farley’s are all a good way to resume solid foods when you have had food poisoning.
- Avoid milk and dairy products as the fats in these can make you feel sick again.
- Thin tomato soup is an excellent first step to eating again after food poisoning – and wholemeal bread can also help you keep solid foods down.
- You may find after a severe bout of sickness and diarrhea that your taste in food changes – you may, for example, go off tea and coffee or even your favorite treats like chocolate or fast food, so eat what you fancy until you regain your full appetite. Fruit teas can replace tea and coffee, for example.
- Over the first few days of eating again after food poisoning introduces into your diet plain omelets, baked potatoes, and cooked vegetables, plus cereals and fruit like avocados and bananas.
- Often it can also be hard to go back to eating foods that made you ill, such as chicken or meat, so do not force yourself to eat foods you no longer fancy or which make you feel queasy again.
- Keep food intake light and nutritious – and fluid levels up – as you recover.
If food poisoning symptoms disappear and return a few weeks later you may require further treatment, so see your GP – salmonella often disappears and returns again, and if left untreated can lead to irritable bowel syndrome. Do not ignore food poisoning symptoms if they last for more than 24 hours or become long term and come and go.