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Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain. Is it food poisoning?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1979
Answered : 624 Questions
My 85 year old mother, in good general health, reports having woken up at 4:00am this morning with sharp abdominal pains, nausea and vomiting, and flashes of hot and cold. I do know her temperature but she believes it to be near normal. Abdominal pain was reported to start in both upper and lower regions but to know be mainly upper area (stomach)

She believes this is food poisoning, will pass and does not want to seek medical attention unless symptoms continue. Does this sound reasonable?
Posted Wed, 30 May 2012 in Abdominal Pain
Answered by Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sharma 2 hours later

Though there are so many causes of pain, but as she has complained about abdominal pain mainly in upper part, nausea, vomiting, it seems that she is suffering with Gastritis. Time of onset is also in favour of Gastritis.
In my opinion you should give her liquid antacid gels, anti emetic and anti spasmodic. If antacid is not available, you can give her cold milk. But if she is unable to take drugs due to vomiting, you have to arrange anti emetic & anti spasmodic through injection. She should be given O.R.S. also dissolved in water.
If pain is not relived and vomiting continues, you have to get her USG of whole abdomen done, & please take her to your family physician for examination and treatment accordingly.
Food poisoning occurs to many persons like all family members, at the same time. In case of food poisoning, in addition to all above symptoms, frequent loose motion & fever is also present. Thus it is not a case of food poisoning.
Hope, I have answered your query. If you have any further query, I am available to help you, but if you don't require any further clarification, please close the discussion by accepting the answer.
With good wishes,

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain. Is it food poisoning? 10 hours later
Hi Dr Chandra:

You are absolutely correct it was not food poisoning. However, it was not gastritis, either.

Purely for your information, I took her to the emergency room where she was admitted for observation and treatment.

Her symptoms were in fact the early signs of sepsis. A urine test revealed very high levels of bacteria and a blood test showed an abnormal number of immature white blood cells (Bands). Also, the diarrhea and vomiting had left her dehydrated to the point where her kidneys were at risk.

Best Regards XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sharma 1 hour later
Thanks for writing back.
It is good that you took your mother to the ER in time. Some symptoms are common to many diseases. These symptoms can be confusing especially in children and elderly who have altered responses to the same condition. For example, a very sick older person may not have fever which is a common sign of sepsis in a younger adult. Examination in person gives a better idea about a patients’ illness. Degree of dehydration & requirement of intravenous fluids can be assessed on physical examination only. Oral rehydration solution was advised to check dehydration.
Hope, I have answered your query. If you have any further query, I am available to help you. But if you don't require any further clarification, please close the discussion.
Wishing your mother a speedy recovery.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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