Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms may range from mild to severe and may differ depending on the germ you swallowed. The most common symptoms of food poisoning are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

After you consume a contaminated food or drink, it may take hours or days before you develop symptoms. If you experience symptoms of food poisoning, such as diarrhea or vomiting, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

When to See a Doctor for Food Poisoning

See your doctor or healthcare provider if you have symptoms that are severe, including:

none
  • Bloody stools
  • High fever (temperature over 102°F, measured orally)
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including little or no urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days

Complications and Long-Term Effects From Food Poisoning

Most people have only mild illnesses, lasting a few hours to several days. However, some people need to be hospitalized, and some illnesses result in long-term health problemsexternal icon or even death. Infections transmitted by food can result in:

  • Chronic arthritis
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) resulting in kidney failure

Symptoms and Sources of Common Food Poisoning Germs

Some germs make you sick within a few hours after you swallow them. Others may take a few days to make you sick. This list provides the symptoms, when symptoms begin, and common food sources for germs that cause food poisoning. The germs are arranged in order of how quickly symptoms begin.

Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)
  • Symptoms begin 30 minutes – 6 hours after exposure: Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps. Most people also have diarrhea.
  • Common food sources: Foods that are not cooked after handling, such as sliced meats, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches.
Clostridium perfringens
  • Symptoms begin 6 – 24 hours after exposure: Diarrhea, stomach cramps. Vomiting and fever are uncommon. Usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours.
  • Common food sources: Beef or poultry, especially large roasts; gravies; dried or precooked foods
Salmonella
Norovirus
Clostridium botulinum (Botulism)
  • Symptoms begin 18 – 36 hours after exposure: Double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech. Difficulty swallowing, breathing and dry mouth. Muscle weakness and paralysis. Symptoms start in the head and move down as severity increases.
  • Common food sources: Improperly canned or fermented foods, usually homemade. Prison-made illicit alcohol.
Vibrio
  • Symptoms begin 1 – 4 days after exposure: Watery diarrhea, nausea. Stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills
  • Common food sources: Raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters
Campylobacter
E. coli (Escherichia coli)
  • Symptoms begin 3 – 4 days after exposure: Severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Around 5­­–10% of people diagnosed with this infection develop a life-threatening complication.
  • Common food sources: Raw or undercooked ground beef, raw (unpasteurized) milk and juice, raw vegetables (such as lettuce), raw sprouts, contaminated water
Cyclospora
  • Symptoms begin 1 week after exposure: Watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue.
  • Common food sources: Raw fruits or vegetables and herbs
Listeria

Report Food Poisoning
hands on stomach

If you think you or someone you know got sick from food, even if you don’t know what food it was, please report it to your local health department. Reporting an illness can help public health officials identify a foodborne disease outbreak and keep others from getting sick.