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:

  • 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
Symptoms and Sources of Common Food Poisoning Germs
Typical Time of Appearance and Symptoms Foodborne Germ and Common Food Sources
30 minutes – 6 hours
Nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Most people also have diarrhea.
  • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)
  • Foods that are not cooked after handling, such as sliced meats, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches.
6 – 24 hours
Diarrhea, stomach cramps. Vomiting and fever are uncommon. Usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours.
12 – 48 hours
Diarrhea, nausea/stomach pain, vomiting
6 hours – 4 days
Diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, vomiting
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.
1 – 4 days
Watery diarrhea, nausea. Stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills
2 – 5 days
Diarrhea (often bloody), stomach cramps/pain, fever
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.
1 week
Watery diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss. Stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue.
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.

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
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 departmentexternal icon. Reporting an illness can help public health officials identify a foodborne disease outbreak and keep others from getting sick.