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Food Poisoning

There are several forms of food poisoning. Bacterial food poisoning is often caused by bacteria in food that has been poorly prepared. Salmonella is one of the most common culprits and is found in many farm products such as eggs and chickens. Toxic (potentially lethal) food poisoning such as botulism can be due to poisons caused by bacteria in certain types of food, including honey and fish. Some foods are entirely poisonous or have components that are poisonous if not properly prepared (crab and some fish being among the most common culprits).

When faced with suspected food poisoning, ask what food has been eaten in the last 48 hours. Food poisoning can take some time to show (however, toxic food poisoning tends to act much more quickly). Be alert to the possibility of food poisoning if there is any combination of the following:

  • Strange-tasting food or food that has been left out in the heat.
  • Several people with the same symptoms.
  • Undercooked or reheated food.

Signs and symptoms

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramp
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Aches and pains
  • Signs of shock

Symptons of toxic poisoning are dizziness, slurred speech and difficulty breathing and swallowing.

First Aid Treatment

  1. Monitor and maintain the person's airway and breathing. If there are breathing difficulties, call an ambulance.
  2. Help the person into a comfortable position.
  3. Call for medical advice on treatment and care.
  4. Give plenty of fluids to drink, particularly if the person has vomiting and diarrhoea.
  5. Support the person if he or she vomits, providing a bowl and towel as necessary.

Do not underestimate food poisoning, particularly in the very young or the elderly.

Common poisonous plants

Many plants have components that are mildly poisonous if eaten, or that may cause a reaction if they are touched. However, in the UK few are extremely poisonous.

Some other common poisonous plants

  • Daffodil (bulbs)
  • Deadly nightshade (roots and berries)
  • Mushrooms (many wild mushrooms and toadstools)
  • Rhubarb leaves


If you suspect that somebody has eaten a poisonous plant, attempt to identify it and seek medical advice. If the person is having breathing difficulties or appears to be lapsing into unconsciousness, call an ambulance. Be prepared to resuscitate if necessary.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.