Symptoms and Sources of Food Poisoning
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 include:
- Upset stomach
- Stomach cramps
After you consume a contaminated food or drink, it may take hours or days before you develop symptoms.
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 problems or even death. Infections transmitted by food can result in chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney failure.
Report a Foodborne Illness
If you believe 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 your illness may help public health officials identify a foodborne disease outbreak and keep others from getting sick.
If you experience symptoms of food poisoning, such as diarrhea or vomiting, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
See your doctor or healthcare provider if you have symptoms that are severe, including:
- High fever (temperature over 101.5°F, measured orally)
- Blood in stools
- Frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
- Signs of dehydration, including a marked decrease in urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy when standing up.
- Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
|Germ and Typical Time for Symptoms to Appear||Typical Signs and Symptoms||Common Food Sources|
2 – 5 days
|Diarrhea (often bloody), stomach cramps/pain, fever||Raw or undercooked poultry, raw (unpasteurized) milk, and contaminated water|
18 – 36 hours
|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||Improperly canned or fermented foods, usually homemade. Prison-made illicit alcohol.|
6 – 24 hours
|Diarrhea, stomach cramps. Vomiting and fever are uncommon. Usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours||Beef or poultry, especially large roasts; gravies; dried or precooked foods|
|Watery diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss. Stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue.||Raw fruits or vegetables, and herbs|
3 – 4 days
|Severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Around 5-10% of people diagnosed with this infection develop a life-threatening complication.||Raw or undercooked ground beef, raw (unpasteurized) milk and juice, raw vegetables (such as lettuce), and raw sprouts, contaminated water|
1 – 4 weeks
|Pregnant women typically experience fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. Infections during pregnancy can lead to serious illness or even death in newborns.
Other people (most often older adults): headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
|Raw (unpasteurized) milk, soft cheeses made with raw milk, raw sprouts, melons, hot dogs, pâtés, lunch meats, and cold cuts, smoked seafood|
12 – 48 hours
|Diarrhea, nausea/stomach pain, vomiting||Infected person, contaminated food like leafy greens, fresh fruits, shellfish (such as oysters), or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces|
12 – 72 hours
|Diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, vomiting||Eggs, raw or undercooked poultry or meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, raw fruits and vegetables|
|Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)
30 minutes – 6 hours
|Diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting||Foods that are handled by people and not cooked (sliced meat, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches). Raw (unpasteurized) milk and cheese made from it.|
1 – 4 days
|Watery diarrhea, nausea. stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills||Raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters|
- Page last reviewed: April 19, 2018
- Page last updated: April 19, 2018
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