Food Poisoning Medication

Updated: Jun 19, 2018
  • Author: Roberto M Gamarra, MD; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, MSc  more...
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Medication Summary

The goals of pharmacotherapy are to reduce morbidity and to prevent complications.


Rehydration solutions

Class Summary

The main objective is adequate rehydration and electrolyte supplementation. This can be achieved with ORS or intravenous solutions (eg, isotonic sodium chloride solution, lactated Ringer solution).

Lactated Ringer solution with NS

Both fluids are essentially isotonic and have equivalent volume-restorative properties. While some differences exist between metabolic changes observed with the administration of large quantities of either fluid, for practical purposes and in most situations, differences are clinically irrelevant. No demonstrable difference exists in hemodynamic effect, morbidity, or mortality between resuscitation using either NS or LR.

Oral electrolyte mixtures (Rehydralyte, Pedialyte)

Acts by glucose-facilitated absorption of sodium and water, which is unaffected in diseases such as cholera. Oral rehydration is achieved using clear liquids and sodium-containing and glucose-containing solutions. WHO recommends a solution containing 3.5 g of sodium chloride, 2.5 g sodium bicarbonate, 1.5 g potassium chloride, and 20 g glucose per liter of water.

A simple solution may be made using 1 level tsp salt and 4 heaping tsp sugar added to 1 L water.



Class Summary

Adsorbents (eg, attapulgite, aluminum hydroxide) help patients have more control over the timing of defecation but do not alter the course of the disease or reduce fluid loss. Antisecretory agents (eg, bismuth subsalicylate) may be useful. Antiperistaltics (opiate derivatives) should not be used in patients with fever, systemic toxicity, bloody diarrhea, or in patients whose condition either shows no improvement or deteriorates.

Attapulgite (Kaopectate, Diasorb)

Adsorbent and protectant that controls diarrhea.

Aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel, Dialume, ALternaGEL)

Commonly used as an antacid. Adsorbent and protectant that controls diarrhea.

Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)

Antisecretory agent that also may have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Diphenoxylate and atropine (Lomotil, Lonox)

Drug combination that consists of diphenoxylate, which is a constipating meperidine congener, and atropine to discourage abuse. Inhibits excessive GI propulsion and motility.

Available in tabs (2.5 mg diphenoxylate) and liquid (2.5 mg diphenoxylate/5 mL).

Loperamide (Imodium)

Acts on intestinal muscles to inhibit peristalsis and slow intestinal motility. Prolongs movement of electrolytes and fluid through bowel and increases viscosity and loss of fluids and electrolytes.

Available over the counter in 2-mg capsules and liquid (1 mg/5 mL).



Class Summary

Empiric antimicrobial therapy must be comprehensive and should cover all likely pathogens in the context of the clinical setting. Antibiotic selection should be guided by blood culture sensitivity.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

First-line therapy. Fluoroquinolone with activity against pseudomonads, streptococci, MRSA, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and most gram-negative organisms, but no activity against anaerobes. Inhibits bacterial DNA synthesis, and, consequently, growth.

Norfloxacin (Noroxin)

Fluoroquinolone with activity against pseudomonads, streptococci, MRSA, S epidermidis, and most gram-negative organisms, but no activity against anaerobes. Inhibits bacterial DNA synthesis, and, consequently, growth.

Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim DS, Septra DS)

Alternative therapy, but resistant organisms are common in the tropics. Inhibits bacterial growth by inhibiting synthesis of dihydrofolic acid.

Doxycycline (Doryx, Vibramycin, Vibra-Tabs)

For V cholerae or V parahaemolyticus infections. Inhibits protein synthesis and thus bacterial growth by binding to 30S and possibly 50S ribosomal subunits of susceptible bacteria.

Rifaximin (Xifaxan, RedActiv, Flonorm)

Nonabsorbed (< 0.4%), broad-spectrum antibiotic specific for enteric pathogens of the GI tract (ie, gram-positive, gram-negative, aerobic, anaerobic). Rifampin structural analog. Binds to beta-subunit of bacterial DNA-dependent RNA polymerase, thereby inhibiting RNA synthesis. Indicated for E coli (enterotoxigenic and enteroaggregative strains) associated with travelers' diarrhea.