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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18771
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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Two days ago I had what I think was food poisoning: I woke

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Two days ago I had what I think was food poisoning: I woke up in the middle of the night with what seemed like terribly aggressive heartburn. I then vomited (no solids, mostly bile) and carried on vomiting any water I drank for most of the morning. I also had diarrhea in the same way. This was Tuesday and it stopped by afternoon but the usual aching in the back, top of legs, buttocks, carried on. I ate plain food on Tuesday evening. Wednesday I felt a bit better and attempted to go to work but the aches were too sore, but I continued to eat plain food. Now, 4am Thursday I noticed several things (that woke me up) continued heartburn, continued pain in kidney area and lots of gas, which is not normal for me - loads of it. I also realised that I hadn't had a bowel movement since the diarrhea stopped on Tuesday early afternoon. I tried to go several times on Wednesday but nothing. I eventually managed to go just now and was surprised to see that my stool was pale cream-coloured. It was also quite loose. Still pain along the back/waist area. Can I go to work or do I need to see someone?
For pain I have mostly used a hot water bottle. I have had paracetemol a couple of times. Have avoided ibuprofen due to sensitivity of stomach but had one dose after eating on Tuesday evening
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 2 years ago.
Hello from JustAnswer.

Whether you can go to work would depend upon the severity of the pain, nausea and vomiting. The fact that you did not have a bowel movement for a couple days is not worrisome, as the diarrhea may have flushed out the system to an extent that it may take several days for stool to reform. The cream colored stool is typically a sign that there is significantly less bile in the stool, but also would not interfere with the ability to return to work. The cream colored stool does raise concern about whether the acute infection is affecting gallbladder or liver function, but the amount of concern would be dependent upon the severity of the pain, nausea, and vomiting.

If you are having severe pain, particularly pain in the right upper abdomen, then it would be better to be seen. If the pain is more moderate in intensity, then it would be OK to continue to manage the symptoms with paracetamol/acetaminophen and medicines to suppress stomach acid to see if the symptoms improve. If the pain, nausea, and vomiting are mild, then it would be OK to return to work.

If I can provide any further information, please let me know.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. You mentioned infection, but what infection do you mean? I wasn't sure if I had one of any sort - was this possibly not food poisoning?
The pain is constant and varies in severity, and is on the right. Sometimes today I could ignore it but it woke me up at 3ish (is currently 5:14). Felt slight relief from making a bowel movement but still tender. Vomitting stopped on Tuesday, but feeling of light nausea persists as does heartburn. It seems to me that heartburn and lack of bile in stool are two things that don't go together?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 2 years ago.
Food poisoning is actually a group of illnesses, most of which are infections or toxins related to the growth of germs in contaminated food. In addition to the infections that can occur with food poisoning, the most common infection would be a viral infection of the gut, called a gastroenteritis. Most of these infections will clear up spontaneously, and we do not worry about clarifying which infection is present if the symptoms resolve.

Heartburn and cream colored stool are independent symptoms. Heartburn is due to acid irritation of the esophagus, which can occur with vomiting from any cause or a specific condition called acid reflux. Heartburn will occur because of the presence of acid, regardless of whether bile is present. The normal brown color of stool is due to digested bile salts, so the loss of the normal brown color is a sign that there is less bile salts in that portion of stool. The fact that you saw bile in some of the vomit does not mean that there are not other times where there was less bile present in the small intestine to be digested and affect the color of the stool. Since the symptoms are independent, some people may have one or the other, both, or neither, depending upon how the individual is affected by the acute situation..
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. The pain has woken and kept me up and would interfere with a working day, so I will see someone in the morning. What should I expect? I'm a bit scared of blood tests so would like to prepare if this is likely.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 2 years ago.
Whether any tests would be necessary would depend upon the findings on exam. If the exam is reassuring, then testing is frequently not necessary. However, if there is concern about serious infection, such as of the gallbladder, then blood tests will typically be done, and possibly an ultrasound.
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