The poisoning occurs after ingesting poisonous species of mushrooms or plants or contaminated fish or shellfish.
The most common symptoms are diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting and sometimes seizures and paralysis.
The diagnosis is based on symptoms and examination of the ingested substance.
Avoiding wild or unfamiliar mushrooms and plants and contaminated fish reduces the risk of poisoning.
Replacing fluids and ridding the stomach of the toxic substance are the best forms of treatment, but some substances are deadly.
(See also Overview of Poisoning Overview of Poisoning Poisoning is the harmful effect that occurs when a toxic substance is swallowed, is inhaled, or comes in contact with the skin, eyes, or mucous membranes, such as those of the mouth or nose... read more .)
Many disorders cause sudden vomiting and diarrhea due to inflammation of the digestive tract (gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis read more ). Sometimes people loosely refer to all of these disorders as "food poisoning." However, most vomiting and diarrhea is caused by a digestive tract infection from a virus or bacteria.
Only gastroenteritis caused by a toxin that was eaten is true food poisoning. For example, bacteria in contaminated food can produce such toxins (see Staphylococcal Food Poisoning Staphylococcal Food Poisoning Staphylococcal food poisoning results from eating food contaminated with toxins produced by certain types of staphylococci, resulting in diarrhea and vomiting. This disorder can be caused by... read more ). Also, although many poisonous plants Plant and Shrub Poisoning A few commonly grown plants are poisonous. Generally, poisoning is unlikely unless large quantities are ingested (for example, if the leaves and other components are concentrated into a paste... read more , mushrooms Mushroom (Toadstool) Poisoning Many species of mushroom are poisonous. The potential for poisoning may vary within the same species, at different times of the growing season, and with cooking. It is difficult to differentiate... read more , and seafood Fish and Shellfish Poisoning Gastroenteritis may be caused by eating bony fish or shellfish. There are three common types of poisoning caused by eating bony fish: Ciguatera Tetrodotoxin Scombroid (See also Shellfish poisoning.) read more affect the digestive tract, some affect other organs.
Gastroenteritis may also affect people who have ingested foods contaminated by external toxins, such as
Unwashed fruits and vegetables sprayed with arsenic, lead Lead Poisoning Some causes of lead poisoning are ingesting lead paint and eating or drinking from certain imported, improperly lead-glazed ceramics. Very high levels of lead in the blood may cause personality... read more , or organic insecticides Insecticide Poisoning Many insecticides can cause poisoning after being swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. Symptoms may include eye tearing, coughing, heart problems, and breathing difficulties. The... read more
Acidic fluids served in lead-glazed pottery
Food stored in cadmium-lined containers
Treatment of Food Poisoning
Most people with food poisoning recover fully and rapidly with nothing more than replacement of fluids and electrolytes. As soon as symptoms begin, a person should try to consume large amounts of fluids. If fluids cannot be tolerated, the person needs to go to an emergency department for intravenous fluids.
If possible, it is often a good idea to rid the stomach of the toxic substance as quickly as possible. For most people, vomiting accomplishes this task.
Specific treatments are sometimes given when the toxin is known.