If you're unlucky enough to come down with food poisoning, you can bet you'll be down for the count for about 24 hours. The following home remedies may help minimize your discomfort and shorten the duration of your symptoms.
Replace your body's fluids. If your stomach will tolerate it, be sure to keep taking liquids, especially if you have diarrhea. Try eating gelatin or drinking decaffeinated soda, tea with sugar, or water.
Avoid rich or spicy foods. When your stomach is feeling irritated, eating fatty or highly seasoned foods may send you right back to the bathroom. If you feel hungry, it's probably best to stick with clear liquids, plain toast, mashed potatoes, bananas, or other bland foods.
Replace your potassium. Vomiting and diarrhea may deplete your body's supply of potassium, which may leave you feeling even worse. An extreme potassium imbalance can even be fatal. Twenty-four hours after your symptoms started (and hopefully when you're feeling a bit better), replenish your potassium stores with a sports drink or a banana.
Go with the flow -- literally. If you've been poisoned by contaminated food and your digestive system is reacting with diarrhea or vomiting, you can trust your body's impulses. Don't reach for medications, because they will only interfere with your body's own defenses, which include expelling the invader.
Be careful with pain medications. Some people make the mistake of taking prescription or over-the-counter pain medications to reduce the discomfort of intestinal cramps. These drugs--especially those containing aspirin or ibuprofen--may irritate the gastrointestinal tract and increase discomfort. For a list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter analgesics, click here.
Try a hot-water bottle. A not-too-hot hot-water bottle placed on the abdomen may help ease the pain of cramps.
Hibernate for a day. There's really not a whole lot you can do to end your misery; just be good to yourself and wait it out. Cancel your plans, rest, and take solace in the fact that it will pass in 24 hours or so.
You might want to avoid the kitchen when you're in the grip of food poisoning, but there are many foods and fluids that will help you recover more quickly. Go to the next page to learn more.