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Food Poisoning Treatment: ER or Urgent Care?

Food Poisoning Treatment: ER or Urgent Care?

Food poisoning is an ailment that nearly everyone has experienced. Luckily, it typically isn’t severe enough to require a trip to an urgent care center or the ER. In most cases, you spend a few hours in the bathroom and drink plenty of fluids, and then you will be fine.

But how do you know when you need medical attention and whether to seek urgent care or go to the ER?

How Do You Know You Have Food Poisoning?

Before seeking food poisoning treatment, you need to know that you have it first. Food poisoning occurs if you eat food that contains toxins, viruses, or bacteria. The exact symptoms will depend on the type of contaminant, but you can expect symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headaches

Most of the time, the symptoms of food poisoning disappear within a couple of days. You can often deal with your symptoms at home, even if it isn’t a pleasant experience. Sometimes, you need to see a doctor, though.

If you are recuperating from food poisoning at home, be on the lookout for severe symptoms. And remember to get medical attention if the symptoms last more than three days. While at home, focus on getting rest and taking lots of fluids. It would be best if you also tried to follow the BRAT diet, as it is gentle on your upset stomach.

Visit Urgent Care for Mild Food Poisoning

Urgent care will be your best option if you have mild food poisoning symptoms. Visit an urgent care center if you have symptoms for more than three days. Remember that urgent care facilities tend to have shorter wait times than emergency rooms. Additionally, they are well-equipped to diagnose and treat food poisoning.


Expect urgent care personnel to ask you about your symptoms and what you recently ate if you suspect the issue is food poisoning. They may order a stool sample or other lab tests to confirm food poisoning or rule out other diagnoses.


Treatment for food poisoning typically involves telling you to rest and drink plenty of fluids. In the case of severe symptoms, such as persistent vomiting and diarrhea, you may need IV fluids. In that situation, urgent care doctors may suggest you go to the hospital.

Depending on your symptoms and the type of food poisoning, urgent care doctors may also prescribe you antibiotics. 

Visit the ER for Severe Food Poisoning or Pre-Existing Conditions

There are some situations when you should go directly to the emergency room. Do so if your symptoms are severe or you have any pre-existing condition that increases your risk of serious complications.

If you notice any of the following, go to the ER right away:

  • Severe dehydration
  • Inability to keep liquids down
  • High fever
  • Extreme abdominal pain
  • Blood in stools
  • Blood in vomit
  • Neurological symptoms (weakness or blurry vision)

Get Medical Attention to Recover From Food Poisoning

Bayhealth Total Care’s Emergency and Urgent Care Center

If your symptoms are mild, but you don’t feel comfortable managing them at home, you should visit a doctor for your food poisoning. If you have severe symptoms, including dehydration, extreme pain, or blood in your vomit or stool, go to the emergency room. If you have a condition that increases your health risks, go to the ER.

At Bayhealth Total Care’s Emergency and Urgent Care Center, our primary goal is to provide the residents of Sussex County with exceptional service and the proper billing for the care they need. Our combined emergency room and urgent care in Milton is fully equipped to handle everything from allergies to chest pain 24/7 with on-site labs, x-ray, ultrasound and CT.

Every patient at our ER and urgent care walk-in clinic is seen by an ER-trained physician at every visit, regardless of the level of care they need. Our approach makes care more affordable by avoiding the higher cost of the emergency room if patients only require urgent care services. Our ER and urgent care clinic is open 24/7.

Bayhealth Total Care’s Emergency and Urgent Care Center is located at 18383 Hudson Road, Milton, DE 19968.