Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms, start within hours of consuming contaminated food and often include diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. Usually, food poisoning is pretty mild and resolves without any treatment. However, some people must go to the hospital.

Food poisoning (or foodborne illness) is a condition caused by consuming contaminated, toxic, or spoiled food. Some infectious organisms, such as parasites, viruses, and bacteria, or their poisons can be the cause of food poisoning. These infectious organisms or their poisons can contaminate food at the particular point of production or processing. Contamination can also happen at home if food is incorrectly cooked or handled.

Even though it is quite uncomfortable, food poisoning is not unusual at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 6 people in the USA will contract certain form of food poisoning each year.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms usually vary with the cause of contamination. The main symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps and abdominal pain
  • Weakness, a lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Aching muscles

Symptoms can begin within hours after consuming the contaminated food, or they can start days or even a few weeks later. The sickness that is caused by food poisoning typically lasts from a couple of hours to several days. In the most cases, food poisoning symptoms will pass quickly and you will be fully recovered. However, there are some more serious cases when you need to see a doctor.

When to Visit a Doctor 

If you experience a few of the following symptoms, you need to seek medical attention.

  • Bloody stools or vomit
  • Inability to keep liquids down and vomiting
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days
  • Temperature that is higher than 101.5F (38.6 C)
  • Severe stomach cramping and extreme abdominal pain
  • Dehydration, dry mouth, excessive thirst, dizziness, lightheadedness, little or no urination, or severe weakness.
  • Neurological symptoms such as muscle weakness, tingling in the arms and blurry vision.




Much viral, bacterial, or parasitic agents can cause food poisoning. Most people with food poisoning symptoms recover at home and usually don’t need some specific treatment.

Rest and drink plenty of water until you feel better. Eat more soup and other light meals. You should also stick to bland foods, such as rice, bananas, crackers or toast.

However, there are certain situations when the food poisoning symptoms tend to get worse and don’t disappear, then you should visit your doctor.

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