January 9, 2008 3:22 AM   Subscribe

I feel like I might have food poisoning, but haven't started throwing up yet. Can I do anything to ameliorate the awfulness that might be on the horizon?

I managed to give myself food poisoning a year or so ago, I'm starting to feel the same shaky, clammy feeling I got then... And it was completely awful. (But over very quickly).

This time it's from store bought fried chicken, last time it was from a bacon sandwich. And maybe I'm wrong... But it feels familiar.

Is there anything in an average pantry that could help? Quickly?

If no, what aside from drinking plenty of fluids will help me feel better most quickly? (Last time I was weak and felt quite delicate, but got over it pretty quickly.)
posted by The Monkey to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've never been able to head it off at the pass, so to speak, but adding sugar, salt and lemon juice to the water you drink really helps for me, so you're still getting some nutrients even though you can't eat.
posted by goo at 4:01 AM on January 9, 2008

Maybe you should throw up?
posted by creasy boy at 4:05 AM on January 9, 2008

This time it's from store bought fried chicken, last time it was from a bacon sandwich

How long ago did you eat the chicken? Keep in mind, food poisoning can occur from an item eaten as few as 2 or as many as 48 hours previous.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:29 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pepto bismol can reduce some of the gastric problems, apparently.
posted by bifter at 4:34 AM on January 9, 2008

Ginger is a good natural anti-nauseant. Extract of ginger in pill or capsule form can be obtained from health-food stores (and some pharmacies). Failing that, last time I was sick (really sick) I lived off ginger beer and/or ginger ale. I actually found that stayed down more reliably than water, strangely, and I think the sugar and whatnot are probably helpful when you're dehydrated through vomiting (a la goo's suggestion).
posted by kxr at 4:45 AM on January 9, 2008

My general feeling (IANAD!!!!) is that if my body wants to puke, I should let it. I may hurry the process along, but who am I to stand in the way of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution getting bad shit out of my system?

That being said.. If I felt food poisoning coming on, I'd probably get to the nearest loo and stick my finger down my throat. That being said, I've sort of been under the impression that it doesn't actually hit until the contaminated food is in your intestines. Doctors please please correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:14 AM on January 9, 2008

Yea, the only way to stop getting hit by food poisoning, is going to be to throw up before it gets a chance to make you ill. That said, if you're not 100% sure...

Ginger will certainly help with nausea, but only to a point with food poisoning. Possibly trying some of the rehydrating sachets if you can get any, if you get to that point, they've been recommended to me.
posted by opsin at 5:19 AM on January 9, 2008

Maalox multi-symptom + yogurt should help quite a bit. Also keep your water intake up.
posted by samsara at 5:24 AM on January 9, 2008

After a bad concussion one time my dad had me chug some OJ while we were on the way to the hospital. When the inevidable happened... well, throwing up is never a good thing, but that was just about as good as it could get. The orange flavor over powered everything else so I didn't get rebound gags, etc.

You might also try a shot or two of some high proof alcohol to kill the bacteria, but there isn't much proof of that working.
posted by jwells at 5:32 AM on January 9, 2008

Throwing up is not the disease, throwing up is the cure. Your body wants to do that in order to get rid of stuff which is trying to harm you.

Preventing it from doing so means keeping that stuff inside, where it can continue to harm you.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:38 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

One of the problems with food poisoning is that there are many different kinds and they can develop over a few hours (such as the case with scromboid poisoning) to several days (as is the case with Campylobacter poisoning). Then, there are other illnesses that seem like food poisoning but are not usually, such as rotavirus (especially in young children). In other words, it is hard to know what you have, much less where you got it without more investigation. Having said that, the suggestion to try bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) is a good generic treatment that is unlikely to cause harm even if it doesn't help, but you may need to use a lot of it to see a result. The advice to hydrate well is probably more important; any kind of sports drink will not only replace the water but also the electrolytes you lose as well. I would not hesitate to go to the local ER for treatment if you start throwing up; they can give you some more powerful antiemetics via an IV (so you don't throw them up) as well as use the IV to rehydrate you. Often it is dehydration that makes people feel weak and woozy all over when they are sick more than the underlying illness. Additional advantages to going to the ER/a doctor are that they can test to determine exactly what you have, and if there is an outbreak of some gastrointestinal illness in the area they are more likely to know about it and offer the appropriate treatment.

Hope you feel better soon.
posted by TedW at 5:45 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

On posting I see that while jwells suggestion of OJ is good, drinking any alcohols is not. The alcohol will be diluted and absorbed in your stomach long before it kills anything, may make you puke in and of itself, will dehydrate you further, and finally may interfere with your ability to drive to the hospital if necessary.
posted by TedW at 5:49 AM on January 9, 2008

Just a heads up.
Theres a throwing up bug going round the UK which starts like this, its pretty much an epidemic with wards being closed and some stupid percent of the workforce off this week. The news just called it 100 times more contagious than salmonella.
It being christmas and the amount of kiwis i know who have gone home for the week (a couple of weeks ago) I wouldnt be suprised if it makes its way round your little island too.
I had it on xmas day and missed out on a goose, and cried, alot.
Theres nothing you can do about it except take those tablets that give you back the electrolytes or something, with names like diarezette, basically anything for the poops and wait it out. Those rehydrating things are always good for food poisoning anyway so it might be worth getting some.
posted by Neonshock at 6:38 AM on January 9, 2008

Right now norovirus is going around, and I can say from experience that it starts with that shaky, clammy feeling - and just gets worse.

I would think OJ might be a bad idea - it's pretty acidic, so it may upset your stomach even more. Just let your body do what it needs to do, as unpleasant as that might be - and drink lots of water so you don't end up hospitalized like I recently did!

The upside, if there is one, is that in most cases these viruses only last a day or two.
posted by chez shoes at 6:43 AM on January 9, 2008

(Please keep us updated with how you're doing! Best of luck.)
posted by mr. creosote at 6:48 AM on January 9, 2008

Activated charcoal tablets.
posted by thedanimal at 6:55 AM on January 9, 2008

2nding Steven upthread. You want to get rid of whatever is making you sick. Pepto or other "stomach" medicines will keep your body from flushing out the poisons and gross stuff. Just take in lots of mild liquids, water, gatorade and camp out next to the porcelain princess. Hope you feel better!!
posted by pearlybob at 7:41 AM on January 9, 2008

Just a thought (from personal experience), but please don't keep yourself from throwing up. The bad stuff (if it needs to come out) will just come out the other way. Worst case scenario you'll be sitting on the toilet and holding a waste basket in your hands because now you're throwing up and "ejecting" on both ends.

My usual course of action is to fast until I know for sure all the bad food etc. is out of my system but try to keep myself hydrated at the same. One or two days of fasting is not as bad as it sounds and your system will heal faster. Then you can start back eating basic stuff like bread or saltines or whatever until you get a craving for the yummy stuff you used to eat before.
posted by eatcake at 7:44 AM on January 9, 2008

My full day's intake as detailed in a similar question I asked some time ago:

I don't know exactly what I did yesterday to prevent this, but I am going to list my regimen for you and future generations:

A cup of coffee (but this was before I felt ill)
A couple of glasses of water in the morning
Pepto Bismol (approximately 4 Tb spread over a several hours)
Probably a total of one glass of ginger ale over the whole day
Four saltines
Two spoonfuls of Emetrol
Maalox (approximately two tablespoons late in the day. Eseentially the same as Pepto but tasted better)
One dose of Imodium AD
One yogurt (a lady in the supermarket said the enzymes in the yogurt would eat my stomach flu bacteria...could this have been the secret?!?)
One plain powered miso soup package
One tablespoon of Maalox before I went to bed
One cup of mint tea before I went to bed
posted by poppo at 8:04 AM on January 9, 2008

Yea, yogurt contains "good bacteria" (flora) that pretty much has a good chance of monopolizing over the bad bacteria. Activa is a good brand to try out, but any yogurt will do if the price turns you off. It's also a natural stomach settler, much like anti-acid. And yea, I'd recommend Maalox over Pepto anyday. (been fighting a more serious stomach bug myself for the past 4 months...so far its baffled my doctors...heh, maybe I'll make a ask-mefi post on it someday)
posted by samsara at 8:24 AM on January 9, 2008

Pepto or other "stomach" medicines will keep your body from flushing out the poisons and gross stuff.

Actually I believe pepto bismol actually has a therapeutic effect on some types of food poisoning. What you say is true for for medicines that dry up diarrhea etc though.
posted by bifter at 8:52 AM on January 9, 2008

Oh man I've been there and couldn't ever manage to throw up but spent the entire night ON the toilet, even had to bring my pillow in so I could put my head against the wall. I feel for you. Just hang in there and it will work its way out of your system. I felt like death, all shaky with chills. Side note, moaning out loud always makes me feel better.
posted by collocation at 8:52 AM on January 9, 2008

When I've had food poisoning (diagnosed by my GP), he recommended very very very very strongly that I not have any dairy at all. YMMV.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:28 AM on January 9, 2008

I just got over something like this, the vomiting (only one episode) was followed by days of other intestinonal pain and explosions. It took about 5 days before I could sneeze safely. I thought it was food poisoning as well until mrs. hexxed got the same thing. I didn't treat it with much other then water and some gatorade. Sometimes you just have to live through it. On the 4th day I have to say that imodium help out tremendously.
posted by hexxed at 12:54 PM on January 9, 2008

Highly recommend Acidolphilus. It's the same active cultures that you'd find in yogurt but without the dairy. You can find it in the vitamin section of any drug store or grocery store. The cultures will eat up the bad bacteria that will make you sick, possibly in time to avoid the vomiting.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 1:33 PM on January 9, 2008

Whatever you do, DON'T drink baking soda and water. My SO did this once when he had food poisoning thinking the soda would settled his stomach but instead it must've created a miniature volcano in there. Off to the emergency room we went.
posted by tamitang at 8:40 PM on January 9, 2008

I don't know that there's any way to head off the ill effects, and the possibilities for that are well covered by the above answers, but I wanted to mention some things that I discovered were necessary the last time I had food poisoning. If its coming out the other end, and it lasts anywhere near as long as mine (about 24 hours), diaper ointment will be a godsend. Embarassing, but way better than the alternative pain. Also, Pedialyte. I'm pretty sure I would have passed out from dehydration otherwise.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 9:00 PM on January 9, 2008

Hah, that's funny as baking soda was one of the things I considered.

I suspect that those who suggested beating the purge to the punch where probably right on the money, I don't know exactly what the mechanism is that makes one sick, but I suspect it's something like "bacteria in stomach reach critical mass, cause/generate a particular toxin which enters bloodstream, body freaks out and throws up", so cutting to the chase would seem to me to mean that less of those toxins would make their way into your blood. But this is just a guess.

Anyway, the long story short is that I didn't throw up. I didn't even get the squirts. I took off all my clothes (I'll explain why shortly), went into the kitchen with my (hastily procured) blue bukkit and asked my body what it felt like.

And after eating a(n entire) can of pringles, and drinking all of the remaining lemonade (thankyou Schweppes) in the house, the shaking, cold sweat and weird feeling in my brain... Went away.

I still strongly suspect that I had food poisoning - but I didn't quite get to one key symptom from last time - heavy, rapid panting.

Speaking of last time... And the reason for the stripping out of my clothes thing...

Auckland, New Zealand. Sometime around 3pm, June 15, 2006

In the process of putting a video together for Ze Frank's The Show, I decide that I'm peckish, so fry up some bacon and eggs, and make delicious bacon & egg sandwiches with extra ketchup. (Ominous foreshadowing as we flashback three to an extended blackout, and watch our delicious bacon slowly warming in an unpowered fridge.)

I start editing.

I start sweating.

I start shivering.

My brain goes funny.

I start panting. (This was incredibly alarming. It really told me something was seriously wrong, and I don't think I'd ever had anything like it before.)

I IM my dear darling that I'm about to die, then run to the bathroom and assume the position.

Then of course, with a face full of toilet, I realise that some other bad thing is also brewing up, in a bad way. So I assume the more conventional position, and hastily grab the bathroom bin, pulling it's liner out and discarding it across the floor, just in time to start projectile everything'ing. Thank god for quick thinking, as nasty black diarrhea explodes simultaneously as a jaw wrenching red torrent gushes forth from my mouth.

It was about this time that I passed out.

I come to still vomiting, bin now well out of the stream. Mercifully, I pass out again.

I come to, covered from chin to knee with bright red goop, bits of well chewed bacon, and the odd bit of bright yellow egg. Everywhere. All over the floor and coming up the wall in a fine spray a good foot & a half. I sag sideways, still on the toilet, but head now resting against the bathroom wall. Then finally stripping out of my revolting vomit saturated clothes, I fall into the shower, then onto the bed, where I lie, too weak to move.

So, you'll understand why I was afraid of going through that again, but if I was going to have to, skipping the revolting clothes part and going directly to the shower made sense, if only to my poisoned brain. And so, not only did I get naked, but also a much larger target for the (I thought inevitable) coming horror.

Anyway, I'm still sure that something was going on - I really felt exactly the same way as last time. And I can't explain why it went away - I don't usually consider Pringles (even the smokey bacon ones, as I had here) to be medicine. (Oh, I also had a big gulp of milk. I figured it might help make things smoother when everything came back up.)

The video is here. Yeah, I know, but light saber baguette! Come on!

Thank you everyone so much for helping.

(I'm totally jonesing for a bundaberg ginger ale now - as much as it pains me to admit it of an Australian product, it really is the best on the market.)
posted by The Monkey at 5:22 AM on January 10, 2008

Oh, as for the timing question from rxrfrx, it was about 2.5 - 3 hours, which was about the same as with the bacon sandwich.
posted by The Monkey at 5:30 AM on January 10, 2008

Glad to hear you made it through without a repeat of your tubgirl performance. Funny enough, whenever I am as sick as that I comfort myself that with the thought that no matter how much money Madonna or the Queen of Canada has at some point they've been stuck in the same position.
posted by saucysault at 3:48 PM on January 10, 2008

For next time: Whenever we feel ill, my wife and I drink cold Gatorade (I prefer the orange flavor). It's probably the only thing next to water that we can feel comfortable drinking when our stomachs are churning.
posted by tra at 10:01 AM on January 12, 2008

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