How Salmonella Is Treated

Whether or not you’ll require treatment for salmonella infection depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of the condition, how long you’ve had it, and if you’re experiencing dehydration. As you cope with the signs and symptoms associated with a salmonella infection, following your treatment plan is key to a prompt and successful recovery.

Let’s take a look at the available treatment options for salmonella.   

Remedies for Salmonella
 Verywell / Gary Ferster

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Many people recover from salmonella infection with a combination of rest and maintaining adequate fluid intake. Try to take it easy until your symptoms subside so your body can heal.  

Hydration

Since Salmonella infections can cause vomiting and diarrhea, it’s important to stay hydrated as best you can. If you’re an adult, increase your fluid intake of water, broth, sports drinks, caffeine-free drinks, or unsweetened fruit juices.

With severe nausea, it can be hard to drink beverages. If that's the case for you, try sucking on ice chips throughout the day, which can keep you hydrated.

For children who experience mild to moderate dehydration, an oral solution such as Pedialyte can be useful for restoring fluid, nutrients, and electrolytes.

When you lose more fluid than you consume, dehydration can creep up on you. The signs of dehydration may vary from one person to another and differ based on age.

For adults, the following are signs of dehydration:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Decreased urinary frequency or output
  • Darker than normal urine color
  • Dizziness
  • Episodes of confusion
  • Extreme fatigue

Children may show the signs of dehydration differently. They include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry or sticky tongue
  • An absence of tears when the child cries
  • Sunken cheeks or sunken soft spot on the top of the child’s head
  • Frequency of urination decreases
  • Diapers remain dry for three hours or more
  • Lethargy
  • Increased irritability or crying more often

Seek advice from your healthcare provider if you or a child is displaying signs of dehydration or if they are unable to keep fluids down.

Diet

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), certain foods can worsen salmonella symptoms, such as diarrhea,

The foods to avoid include:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Dairy products
  • Fried or greasy foods
  • Sugary drinks
  • Fruits like apples, peaches, or pears
  • Spicy foods
  • Drinks containing artificial sweeteners

When you feel like your stomach is up to handling some food, a mild, bland diet might be your best bet. You might have heard of the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Although research doesn’t indicate that this diet is better or more helpful than other ones, for some people the BRAT diet can be a non-irritating way to reintroduce food to a delicate digestive tract.

Eat small meals when you can tolerate it, and continue to drink replenishing fluids.

Heating Pads

Sometimes a heating pad can ease abdominal cramping. However, it can be uncomfortable for some people who experience vomiting and diarrhea with salmonella. If you try it, and it doesn’t help you, stop using it—you won’t recover more quickly by pushing through something that’s uncomfortable for you.

Over-the-Counter Therapies

There are several over-the-counter drugs that may help relieve symptoms of salmonella poisoning.

Pain Medications

Over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen, may help reduce body aches and pains and lessen symptoms.

Antidiarrheals

In some cases, antidiarrheal medications, like Immodium, might decrease the abdominal discomfort associated with salmonella. But this type of medication has some drawbacks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Antidiarrheals may extend the length of time you experience diarrhea from the infection.

Probiotics  

In 2013, a team of microbiologists from the University of California, Irvine found that a probiotic strain originally used to treat the symptoms of irritable bowel may soothe gut infections caused by salmonella. The probiotic known to be helpful is a strain of E. coli called Nissle 1917. Researchers indicated this probiotic strain was only available in Germany. However, 2018 findings suggest this beneficial bacteria can be found in the U.S. market as well—though its availability is limited.

If you’re interested in the use of probiotics, consult with your doctor to find one that might be right for you.

Prescriptions 

Typically, people recover from salmonella within four to seven days without medical intervention. In uncomplicated cases, antibiotics aren’t recommended.

If your infection persists, you have a compromised immune system, or the infection has entered your bloodstream, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics for you. Some of the antibiotics used to treat the infection include amoxicillin, cefotaxime, and ciprofloxacin, to name a few.

However, antibiotic treatment poses some risks, including an increased possibility of a relapse. Also, the antibiotics may extend the amount of time you carry the bacteria and prolong the stage during which you can infect others with salmonella.

If you’re dealing with severe dehydration or have been ill for longer than seven days, you may require hospitalization, where you may receive intravenous (IV) fluids and/or antibiotics.

Specialist-Driven Procedures

In most cases of salmonella, surgery isn’t required to recover from the infection. In fact, many people will get well with a combination of home treatments and lifestyle modifications. However, if you experience a high fever, blood in your stool, or signs of dehydration, consult with your doctor. If necessary, they will recommend additional specialists or procedures.

Complementary Medicine (CAM) 

To date, no research has been conducted on the treatment of Salmonella with alternative approaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you treat salmonella?

    Most people who get salmonella recover without specific treatment. In severe cases, antibiotics may be needed to clear the infection. Because salmonella can be severely dehydrating, typical treatment is focused on replacing fluids and electrolytes lost to diarrhea. If dehydration is severe, fluids may be delivered intravenously (into a vein) in a hospital.

  • What antibiotics are effective against salmonella?

    The first-line antibiotics are fluoroquinolones such as Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Zithromax (azithromycin). Third-generation cephalosporins may be used in some cases, but they are associated with a four-fold reduced risk of antibiotic resistance compared to fluoroquinolones.

  • How do you relieve salmonella diarrhea?

    Antidiarrheal medications like Imodium (loperamide) are effective in relieving cramps and may reduce the severity of diarrhea, but they can also prolong diarrhea associated with salmonella. Lomotil (diphenoxylate) is contraindicated for use with salmonella infection.

  • Are there home remedies to self-treat salmonella?

    The main goal of self-treatment is to remain well hydrated. Sports drinks, decaffeinated tea, and broth are ideal. If you have nausea or vomiting, sucking on ice chips or sipping water or ginger ale can help. Eat bland foods like bananas, oatmeal, egg whites, and saltines, and avoid caffeine and alcohol (both of which promote urination and are irritating to the stomach).

  • What happens if you don’t treat salmonella?

    Most cases resolve on their own with rest and hydration. However, severe cases can lead to potentially life-threatening complications (including shock and septicemia) if left untreated. Call 911 or seek emergency care if you have symptoms of severe salmonella poisoning, including:

    • High fever (over 101 degrees F)
    • Severe diarrhea or vomiting
    • Dark or bloody stools or vomit
    • No urination or dark-colored urine
    • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
    • Changes in vision
    • Disorientation or loss of consciousness
    • Severe muscle cramps
    • Seizures
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Article Sources
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