How Salmonella Is Treated

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Treatment for a salmonella infection usually starts with home remedies and over-the-counter medications. You may need prescriptions or medical care as well depending on a number of factors. This includes the severity of the condition, how long it's lasted, and if you’re experiencing dehydration.

As you cope with the symptoms of a salmonella infection, following your treatment plan is key to a prompt, successful recovery.

This article discusses the treatments typically used for salmonella, including home remedies, over-the-counter therapies, and prescriptions.

Remedies for Salmonella
 Verywell / Gary Ferster

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Most 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.  


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 experiencing mild to moderate dehydration, an oral solution like 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 may have:

  • 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
  • Decreased frequency of urination
  • Diapers remaining dry for three hours or more
  • Lethargy
  • Increased irritability or crying more often

Call your healthcare provider if you or a child is displaying signs of dehydration or unable to keep fluids down.


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 try the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

Research doesn’t indicate that this diet is better or more helpful than other ones. However, 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 toughing out something that’s uncomfortable for you.

Over-the-Counter Therapies

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

Pain Medications

Over-the-counter painkillers, like Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen), may help reduce body aches and pains and lower a fever.


In some cases, antidiarrheal medications, like Imodium (loperamide), might decrease the abdominal discomfort associated with salmonella. But this type of medication has some drawbacks. Antidiarrheals may extend the length of time you experience diarrhea from the infection.


In 2013, a team of microbiologists from the University of California, Irvine looked at a probiotic strain of E. coli bacteria called Nissle 1917. They found that while it was originally used to treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, it may soothe gut infections caused by salmonella. However, the study looked at animal models rather than humans.

Researchers are looking at probiotics as a possible treatment for salmonella, but more trials are needed with human subjects.

Probiotic supplements vary widely in quality and the types of bacteria they contain. If you’re interested in the use of probiotics, consult with your healthcare provider to find one that might be right for you.

Prescriptions for Salmonella 

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

Your healthcare provider may prescribe a course of antibiotics for you if:

  • Your infection persists.
  • You have a compromised immune system.
  • The infection has entered your bloodstream.

Common oral antibiotics for salmonella for adults include fluoroquinolones, such as ciprofloxacin, and azithromycin for children.

However, antibiotic treatment poses some risks, including an increased possibility of a relapse. Also, antibiotics may extend the amount of time you carry the bacteria. This means it can 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. At the hospital, you may receive intravenous (IV) fluids or antibiotics.


Most salmonella infections get better on their own with home remedies. That includes getting rest and drinking lots of fluids since vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. You may want to use over-the-counter pain medication for discomfort and fever.

Your healthcare provider might prescribe antibiotics if you have a persistent infection, a compromised immune system, or an infection that entered your bloodstream. Sometimes hospital care is needed for dehydration or severe illness.

A Word From Verywell

While salmonella symptoms can feel miserable, they usually go away on their own within a week. If they don't, or you're feeling worse, call your healthcare provider. They can help determine what treatment is needed to improve your symptoms. If you experience a high fever, blood in your stool, or signs of dehydration, seek emergency care.

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.

  • How do you relieve salmonella diarrhea?

    Antidiarrheal medications like Imodium (loperamide) are effective in relieving cramps and may reduce the severity of diarrhea. However, 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. Avoid caffeine and alcohol (both of which can contribute to dehydration 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
10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella. Diagnosis and treatment.

  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Eating, diet, & nutrition for diarrhea.

  4. Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. Salmonella Infections.

  5. Switaj TL, Winter KJ, Christensen SR. Diagnosis and management of foodborne illnesses. Am Fam Physician. 2015;92(5):358-365.

  6. Deriu E, Liu JZ, Pezeshki M, et al. Probiotic bacteria reduce salmonella typhimurium intestinal colonization by competing for iron. Cell Host Microbe. 2013;14(1):26-37. doi:10.1016/j.chom.2013.06.007

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella: Questions and answers.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella: Advice to clinicians.

  9. Szych J, Wolkowicz T, Ragione R, Madajczak G. Impact of antibiotics on the intestinal microbiota and on the treatment of shiga-toxin-producing escherichia coli and salmonella infections. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2014;20(28):4535-4548. doi:10.2174/13816128113196660730

  10. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Package insert - Lomotil cv.

By Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L
Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is a licensed occupational therapist and advocate for patients with Lyme disease.