How long will my tummy take to heal after food poisoning? Dr Rosemary answers

Q - After a meal at a restaurant I had a severe bout of food poisoning which made me very sick. I didn’t go to the doctor at the time as I thought it would pass but seven weeks on, I’m still not back to normal. What should I do to speed my recovery?

A - Food poisoning can be caused by many different bugs, including viruses and bacteria but often the symptoms go away after a week or so.

However, about 10 per cent of people who have had bacterial gastroenteritis (from campylobacter or E. coli, for example) suffer from persistent bowel problems afterwards.

It’s often referred to as post-infective irritable bowel syndrome and symptoms can include bloating, unpredictable bowel motions and diarrhoea.

The exact cause isn’t known but it may be due to ongoing inflammation in the bowel or a change in the balance of the gut flora, the microorganisms that live in the bowel.

There is no specific treatment for this type of IBS but it may help to boost the “good” bacteria in your bowel with a food supplement such as Bimuno or a probiotic such as Symprove.

Keep a food diary too (taking a photo of your food with a smartphone is easier than trying to write everything down) noting if certain foods, especially in larger portions, make your symptoms worse.

In most people the bowel does eventually settle down again, though this can take several months.

Q - I'm due to have radiotherapy soon for prostate cancer. What this will involve?

A - Two types of radiotherapy are used for treating prostate cancer – external beam therapy, and internal radiotherapy, known as brachytherapy.

With external treatment, the radiotherapy beams pass through your skin to the prostate gland, while with brachytherapy the treatment is given via tiny radioactive seeds that are placed inside the prostate gland.

These then slowly release a low level of radiation to the prostate over the following six to 12 months. Some men have just one type, while others have both.

Brachytherapy is only suitable for early prostate cancer that has not spread outside the prostate. External beam radiotherapy involves going to the hospital every day for four to eight weeks and treatment sessions last about 25 minutes each.

Side effects tend to start a few days after the treatment begins and include tiredness and redness and soreness of the skin.

Inflammation of the bladder and lower bowel can also occur, leading to diarrhoea and pain on passing water.

Side effects from external beam treatment tend to subside in the weeks after treatment has finished but occasionally loose stools and some discomfort in the bladder area can persist.

Get more detailed information from Prostate Cancer UK by calling 0800 074 8383 or visit

Q - Can a short course of statins damage your liver?

A - Yes but it’s rare. It is known that in about three per cent of people who take statins, there is a slight rise in one of the enzymes (known as ALT) that is produced by the liver but this is usually only temporary and does not cause any symptoms or harm.

It is thought to be due to the liver adapting to metabolising the statin. About one in 100,000 people taking statins develop more serious liver injury from them and this can happen after only a short course but the liver usually recovers if the drug is stopped.

If you have been prescribed a statin and are concerned then your GP can arrange a blood test that will show if your liver has been affected in any way. 

If you have a health question for Dr Rosemary please write to her in confidence at The Northern & Shell Building, 10 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6EN or email

Dr Rosemary’s reply will appear in this column. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence and that, due to the volume of letters, she cannot reply to everyone.

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