advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Scombroid Poisoning: Eating Bad Fish?

I have been diagnosed with scombroid poisoning. I was told to take Benadryl and Zantac. I have followed this for a week. What else can I do to speed my recovery?

A
Answer (Published 10/23/2009)

Scombroid poisoning can result from eating fish that is not immediately refrigerated or frozen after it is caught. It is usually associated with big, meaty fish such as tuna, mackerel, mahi mahi and albacore. Symptoms are caused by a histamine-like toxin produced by bacteria that normally live on the fish. The longer a fish sits out before being refrigerated or frozen, the greater the bacterial load, and the greater the risk of scombroid poisoning.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

Symptoms usually develop immediately after eating and can include flushing, hives and itching, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and, in severe cases, breathing problems. Treatment begins with giving antihistamine medications such as Benadryl, and, if needed, intravenous fluids to replace what you may have lost from vomiting and diarrhea. If you go to the emergency room, you may get drugs to stop the vomiting and, if needed, stronger medication to quell a severe allergic reaction. In rare cases, a breathing tube may be needed. Fortunately, the symptoms of scombroid poisoning usually subside within a few hours of treatment. If your symptoms have persisted for a week, you should be aware of another, more serious type of poisoning associated with eating fish: ciguatera (pronounced seeg-wha-terra). This can occur as a result of eating fish from warm tropical waters that have consumed ciguatoxin, a poison made in small amounts by algae and algae-like organisms called dinoflagellates. Here's what happens: little fish that eat the algae become contaminated. If larger fish eat a lot of the smaller, contaminated fish, the poison can build to a dangerous level. Because ciguatoxin is heat-stable, cooking doesn't destroy it. Fish that carry this poison include sea bass, grouper and red snapper and are most common in waters around Florida and Hawaii.

Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning typically develop two to 12 hours after eating and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and numbness followed by headache, a metallic taste in your mouth, and a change in your ability to feel cold and hot – you perceive something as hot when it really is cold and vice versa. Treatment includes medication to stop the vomiting, IV fluids to replace those lost from vomiting and diarrhea, and in severe cases the drug mannitol to help reduce neurological symptoms such as dizziness, numbness and misperception of cold. Ciguatera poisoning symptoms can last from days to weeks depending on the severity of the case.

Anytime you eat bad fish in a restaurant, be sure to let the management know; your doctor should contact the local health department to make sure the fish is discarded before other people get sick.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here