Can Cola Prevent Food Poisoning

Food poisoning treatment

In most cases, it is possible to dispense with a pathogen investigation using laboratory diagnostics, as most diarrhea is self-limiting and subside after a few days.

Home remedies as the first choice

Treatment in healthy adults and older children is limited to drinking sufficient amounts of fluids to compensate for fluid and electrolyte losses. For example, a self-made rehydration solution can consist of 1 liter of water, 8 level teaspoons of sugar and 1 level teaspoon of salt.

If the fluid balance cannot be replenished (rehydration), an infusion must be given, especially in children, in order to avoid dehydration. The amount you drink should be around 40 ml / kg body weight within 24 hours (i.e. 3 liters per day for a body weight of 75 kg).

By eating easily digestible food such as rusks, pretzel sticks or white bread, the regeneration of the damaged intestinal mucosa can be promoted. Food abstinence (renouncement of food) during the duration of the diarrhea is not recommended, as the intestine does not receive any nutrients that it needs to rebuild the intestinal flora. In addition, the intestinal function is shut down due to the absence of food.

It is advisable to keep the diet low in fat and protein. In addition, flatulence, raw vegetables, milk and milk products, alcohol, cola and coffee should be avoided. Furthermore, people should pay particular attention to the quality of their food after food poisoning, as the intestinal flora is very damaged and needs time to completely regenerate. According to this, the likelihood of suffering food poisoning again is high for people who have just survived one (relapse).

Vomiting and bowel movements should not be withheld, as this will remove the bacterial toxins from the body more quickly.

Medication to relieve symptoms

To relieve the symptoms, medication can be administered that inhibit vomiting (antiemetics), alter bowel function (opiates such as loperamide) or paralyze it (parasympatholytics such as butylscopolamine). Before using them, the benefits must be weighed against the risks of the preparation. For example, loperamide has a constipating effect in that the drug inhibits diarrhea by slowing down bowel movement. However, this also delays the excretion of bacteria and their toxins, so that the duration of the disease increases.

Antibiotics for food poisoning

The use of antibiotics with bacterial pathogen detection is to be questioned critically in the majority of cases. Targeted therapy should only be given if the course is very severe (more than 10 bowel movements in 24 hours and bloody stool). Antibiotics are required for:

  • an infection with salmonella. However, antibiotics can prolong the excretion of bacteria.
  • Young children and patients with high fever, old people or people with weakened immune systems.
  • an infection with Campylobacter.
  • an infection with Listeria. In any case, this must be treated with antibiotics.
  • Occurrence of neurological symptoms such as impaired vision, swallowing and speech after a meal. In this case, the possibility of botulism poisoning must be considered. In this case, an antidote (antitoxin) should be administered if there is any suspicion.
  • Suspected bacterial dysentery (Shigella infection).

The administration of antibiotics is contraindicated in the event of an infection with Escherichia coli, as the bacteria then produce more toxins.

++ More on this: Food poisoning after pathogen ++

Probiotics as an alternative treatment

Scientific studies have come to different conclusions with regard to the use of probiotics (living microorganisms that are added to various foods). Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which are natural colonists, belong to the group of bacteria that are used as probiotics. Probiotics can be taken in freeze-dried form as a powder or tablet or as an additive in a ready-to-use rehydration solution.

Some research shows that the use of probiotics can be recommended for food poisoning. It has been shown that certain probiotic bacteria stimulate the immune system in the intestinal mucosa. Some probiotics produce substances that are similar to antibiotics in their effects. These can shorten the duration of diarrhea by eight hours to a day.

However, other studies indicate that the daily consumption of probiotic foods is necessary to ensure high germ counts of the bacteria in question. According to these studies, positive effects can only be achieved by permanently ensuring high germ counts.

The positive effect of the use of probiotics in food poisoning is not fully understood.


Uncomplicated diarrhea that runs without fever or blood is usually self-limiting and disappears within a few days. Food poisoning usually improves spontaneously after a short illness of one to two days. Only cases of botulism poisoning can lead to death if left untreated.

++ More on this: Causes of food poisoning ++

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Helga Quirgst, MSc (2013)
Medical review:
Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Mohammad Manafi, Institute for Hygiene, Applied Immunology and Food Hygiene, Medical University of Vienna (2013), Doz. Bernhard Angermayr
Editorial editing:
Mag. (FH) Silvia Hecher, MSc (2013), Silke Brenner

Status of medical information:

ICD-10: A05