Food poisoning is caused by eating foods contaminated with bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses. Because children's immune systems are still developing, this condition can hit kids particularly hard. Below is a parent's guide to providing pediatric at-home care to a child experiencing food poisoning.
What You Should Know About Foodborne Illnesses
Signs & Symptoms
The most obvious symptoms of food poisoning are stomach upset and cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Your child might also have diarrhea, a fever, and a headache, as well as a general feeling of weakness and fatigue.
Dehydration is one of the primary concerns resulting from food poisoning in pediatric patients. Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly sap the water and electrolytes from a child's body. If you notice signs of dehydration, such as excessive thirst, infrequent urination, or dizziness, see a doctor right away.
Other serious symptoms of food poisoning might also require a trip to the doctor. These include vomiting that lasts for 12 hours or more, diarrhea accompanied by a high fever, bloody or black stools, or a rapid heartbeat.
To treat food poisoning at home, be sure your child gets plenty of rest. Provide them with a constant supply of water or pediatric electrolyte drinks—avoid caffeine and dairy-based beverages—and encourage small but frequent sips. If diarrhea is an issue, stick to light, soft foods until the food poisoning passes. Do not administer any over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications, as these can exacerbate food poisoning symptoms.
Practice proper food handling and safety at home to prevent food poisoning. This may include:
- Teaching children to wash their hands thoroughly before meals and before touching any food.
- Washing all raw vegetables and fruits before consumption or use.
- Cooking meats to the recommended internal temperatures.
- Promptly throwing away any foods that are past their expiration date.
- Keeping frozen food in the refrigerator until it reaches the appropriate temperature rather than defrosting it in the sink.
With a little vigilance and a lot of love, you can help your child weather the discomfort of food poisoning. If you're concerned about any of their symptoms, visit a doctor as soon as possible. HDR Healthcare Network provides primary and urgent care services to the Bronx, NY, area. In addition to pediatric specialties, they also see patients for internal medicine, senior care, and home health issues. Call (929) 256-5005 or visit them online to schedule an appointment.