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 develop severe illness requiring hospitalization, 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.
|Germ||Typical Time for Symptoms to Appear||Typical Signs and Symptoms||Common Food Sources|
|Campylobacter, Bacteria||2 to 5 days||Diarrhea (often bloody), stomach cramps/pain, fever|
|Clostridium botulinum, Bacteria||18 to 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||
|Clostridium perfringens, Bacteria||6 to 24 hours (typically 8 to 12). The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours||Diarrhea, stomach cramps. Vomiting and fever are uncommon||
|Cyclospora, Parasite||1 week||Watery diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss. Stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may occur.||Raw fruits, vegetables, and herbs|
|Escherichia coli, Shiga toxin-producing, such as O157, Bacteria||3 to 4 days after exposure, but may be as short as 1 day or long as 10 days||Severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. If there is fever, usually it is less than 101˚F.
|Listeria, Bacteria||1 to 4 weeks||Pregnant women typically experience fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy usually lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
People other than pregnant women (most often adults aged 65 and older) headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
|Norovirus, Virus||12 to 48 hours||Diarrhea, nausea/stomach pain, vomiting||Can spread from an infected person from contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.|
|Salmonella, Bacteria||12 to 72 hours||Diarrhea, Fever, stomach cramps, vomiting|
|Staphylococcus aureus (Staph), Bacteria||30 minutes to 6 hours||Diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting||Foods that are handled by people and not cooked. Examples are sliced meat, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches. People can also spread the germs to food when they touch it without first washing their hands. Also from nnpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese made from it.|
|Vibrio, Bacteria||24 hours||Watery diarrhea, nausea. stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills||Raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters|
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
- Page last reviewed: July 25, 2017
- Page last updated: February 6, 2018
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