Food Poisoning Symptoms
You can get sick with food poisoning after swallowing certain germs, like Salmonella or E. coli. Your symptoms may vary, depending on the germ you swallowed. Symptoms can range from mild to serious and can last for a few hours or several days.
The most common symptoms of food poisoning are:
- Stomach pain or cramps
If you have diarrhea or vomiting, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration (not having enough water in your body).
See a doctor if you have any symptoms that are severe, including:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
- High fever (temperature over 102°F)
- Vomiting so often that you cannot keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, which include not urinating (peeing) much, a dry mouth and throat, feeling dizzy when standing up
See your doctor if you are pregnant and have a fever and other flu-like symptoms. Some mild infections can cause problems with pregnancy.
Most people have mild illnesses, but some infections spread by food are serious or even life-threatening. Some people may need to be hospitalized, and some illnesses lead to other health problems, including:
- Kidney damage
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure
- Brain and nerve damage
For some people, these health problems can last for weeks or months after recovering from the foodborne illness. For others, they never go away.
Some germs make you sick within a few hours after you swallow them. Others may take a few days to make you sick. This table provides details about the symptoms caused by different germs, when they usually start, and common sources for those germs. Search the table for symptoms you are having.
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 details about the symptoms caused by different germs, when they usually start, and common sources for those germs. Review the list for symptoms you are having.
30 minutes to 8 hours
Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea
- Germ: Staphylococcus aureus (Staph food poisoning)
- Common food sources: Foods that are not cooked after handling, such as sliced meats, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches
Within 24 hours
6 to 24 hours
6 hours to 6 days
Diarrhea (can be bloody), fever, stomach cramps, vomiting
12 to 48 hours
18 to 36 hours
Difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, and difficulty moving eyes – symptoms start in the head and move down as the illness gets worse
2 to 5 days
3 to 4 days
Severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting
- Germ: E. coli (Escherichia coli)
- Common food sources: Raw or undercooked ground beef, raw (unpasteurized) milk and juice, raw vegetables (such as lettuce), raw sprouts, and contaminated water
- Long-term effects: Around 5–10% of people diagnosed with E. coli develop a life-threatening health problem called hemolytic uremic syndrome
Fever and flu-like symptoms (such as muscle aches and fatigue), headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and seizures
- Germ: Listeria (invasive illness)
- Common food sources: Queso fresco and other soft cheeses, raw sprouts, melons, hot dogs, pâtés, deli meats, smoked fish, and raw (unpasteurized) milk
- People who are pregnant: Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn. Call the doctor right away if you have a fever and feel more tired and achy than usual.
* Most often older adults and people with weakened immune systems
If you think you or someone you know got sick from food, please report it to your local health department. Report it even if you don’t know what food made you sick. Reporting an illness can help public health officials identify a foodborne disease outbreak and keep others from getting sick.