Should I Go To The Emergency Room For Food Poisoning?

Food Poisoning

Oct 12, 2021


Food poisoning, while uncomfortable, is a fairly common illness –– but if you notice your symptoms are progressing, you may start wondering, “when should I go to the emergency room for food poisoning?”

You should immediately seek food poisoning treatment in the ER if you begin to notice blood in your urine, feces, or vomit, diarrhea lasting more than three days, or signs of severe dehydration including extreme thirst, loss of consciousness, or confusion.

Understanding the common symptoms of food poisoning can help you recognize when your symptoms become a cause for concern. In this article, we are going to cover the basics of foodborne illness and how to know when it’s time to seek emergency care.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is caused by ingesting food that is contaminated with a bacteria, parasite, or virus. The most common causes of food poisoning are well-known bacteria and viruses like E. Coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Norovirus, and Clostridium Perfringens. When foods are cooked at a high enough temperature, these pathogens are killed off. But if they are eaten raw, aren’t cooked fully through, or if there is a case of cross-contamination, you place yourself at risk of getting a foodborne illness.

Common foods that can cause food poisoning include:

  • Raw fruit and vegetables
  • Sushi or other forms of raw fish
  • Cold cuts and deli meat
  • Unpasteurized products like vinegars and dairy products
  • Poultry
  • Raw eggs

If you’re around other people or have other kids at home, you may be wondering, “is food poisoning contagious?” Unfortunately, when caused by specific bacteria, viruses, or parasites, it is contagious. Do your best to keep the infected individual isolated and prevent the spread of the illness.

Common food poisoning symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms can come on within hours after consuming the contaminated food. The most common symptoms include:

If you are concerned about or have questions regarding the symptoms of you or your child, never hesitate to call your local urgent care.

How to treat food poisoning

If you aren’t holding foods down, it’s best to avoid consuming solid foods until you’re no longer having diarrhea or vomiting. Instead, opt for foods that are bland and easier to digest such as saltine crackers, jello, toast, or oatmeal. Other ways you can support the body while it’s healing include:

  • Consuming broth, fluids, and electrolytes (including watered down fruit juices or sports drinks)
  • Getting lots of rest
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and spicy or fatty foods

The real question is, how long does food poisoning last? These symptoms will generally clear up on their own within a couple of days or even hours. In more severe cases, it may last up to ten days.

When should you go to the hospital for food poisoning?

Now that you understand the common symptoms, you likely want to know “should I go to the emergency room for food poisoning?”

It’s time to seek food poisoning treatment in the ER if you:

  • Have a fever that’s higher than 100°
  • Notice blood in your bowel movements
  • You feel dehydrated (dry mouth and/or excessive thirst)
  • Are experiencing frequent vomiting
  • Have intense or extreme stomach pain
  • Start vomiting blood
  • Experience difficulties breathing
  • Notice a rapid heart rate

What will the ER do for food poisoning?

Most cases of food poisoning can be successfully treated at home, but when symptoms of food poisoning persist, or you start noticing severe dehydration symptoms, you’ll want to head into an urgent care facility near you. An ER can help with:

  • Dehydration treatment
  • Watch for organ complications
  • Provide antibiotics for severe infections
  • Test blood and stool to diagnosis the source of the infection

Need urgent care treatment for food poisoning in Texas or Colorado? Head into Complete Care.

Generally, food poisoning symptoms can be treated at home with rest, fluids, and bland foods. But if you start noticing severe signs of dehydration, abnormal pain, and bloody vomit or stools, it’s time to receive food poisoning treatment in the ER. 

Complete Care offers award-winning emergency care facilities complete with onsite imaging and lab capabilities. Our team of experienced doctors and nurses work diligently to evaluate, guide, and treat you safely, quickly, and thoroughly.

Get effective urgent care treatment for food poisoning without the typical long wait times of your typical ERs when you visit one of our locations today. 

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