Does your child have food poisoning?

Bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemicals can all cause food poisoning . Children are particularly vulnerable to developing severe complications of food poisoning, such as dehydration. Because of this, you should be vigilant in monitoring your child when he or she displays possible food poisoning symptoms. If the symptoms are severe or dehydration is a possibility, you can take your child to the pediatric Emergency Room at Sunrise Children’s Hospital.

Onset of food poisoning symptoms
The onset of symptoms refers to the time it takes for your child to develop symptoms after consuming a contaminated food or beverage. The onset of food poisoning symptoms depends largely on the type of contaminant. Your child may start feeling ill within an hour, within the day or within a few weeks.

Gastrointestinal symptoms of food poisoning
The hallmark sign of food poisoning is gastrointestinal distress. Your child may experience the following problems.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced urine output
  • Stomach pain or cramps

If your child has bloody stool or vomit, he or she needs emergency care right away. Other severe symptoms that should be evaluated by a pediatric doctor include the following:

  • Vomiting that persists longer than 12 hours
  • Very painful cramps that do not resolve after a bowel movement
  • Diarrhea accompanied by a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Black or maroon stool

Other symptoms of food poisoning
Systemic symptoms are those that affect the whole body. It’s possible for food poisoning to cause the following systemic symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • General weakness
  • Muscle aches and pains

In addition, food poisoning can cause neurological impairment, such as dizziness, visual disturbances, headaches and seizures.

Signs of dehydration
Your child is at a higher risk of dehydration while ill because he or she may eliminate excessive amounts of fluids through vomit and diarrhea. Your child may also be unwilling to consume enough fluids. Bring him or her to the children’s hospital if you think he or she is dehydrated, as indicated by these symptoms:

  • Fast breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Decreased urination
  • Darkly colored urine
  • Confusion

When your child isn’t feeling well, you can trust children’s emergency care doctors to help him or her feel better quickly. Sunrise Children’s Hospital has the largest Emergency Room in Las Vegas devoted entirely to pediatrics. Call (702) 233-5437 if you have general, non-emergent questions for our registered nurse.

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