How long does food poisoning last?

by Dennis Kim

Food poisoning, otherwise known as foodborne illness, is an illness caused by eating contaminated or poorly cooked food. If you’ve ever had food poisoning, it was most likely due to bacteria, viruses or parasites (or their toxins). These infectious organisms and their toxins can contaminate food at any point during the production or cooking process.

In general, food poisoning symptoms start within hours of food consumption and if it’s severe enough, can lead to hospitalization. In this post, we’ll outline the symptoms of food poisoning and how long it normally lasts.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

In general, food poisoning symptoms can vary depending on the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of these varying symptoms including:

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Watery or bloody diarrhea

• Fever / Aches and Pains

• Abdominal pain and cramps

How to know when you should see a doctor

It’s not as common, but sometimes food poisoning can reach severe levels and seeing a doctor is necessary. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away:

• Extreme pain and abdominal cramping

• Fever temperature that’s higher than 100.4 F (38 C)

• Symptoms of dehydration include excessive thirst, lack of urination, consistent dry mouth and dizziness

• Bloody vomit or stools (as well as excessive vomiting and the inability to keep down fluids)

• In severe cases, neurological symptoms such as blurry vision, weakness of the muscles and leg and arm tingles

• If your symptoms develop into a medical emergency situation, see a doctor right away

What are the causes of food poisoning?

Food contamination can happen at any point during production including growing, harvesting, storing, shipping or preparing. The cross-contamination of harmful organisms is the most common cause especially when it comes to preparing raw foods (such as meat products and salads). Most of the time, food poisoning affects the stomach and intestines. However, it can affect other parts of the body as well.

Some of the most common causes of food poisoning include:

• Salmonella

• E. coli

• Listeria

• Norovirus

• Campylobacter

• Clostridium perfringens

How long does food poisoning last for?

Because there are more than 250 types of food poisoning, the length of time can differ depending on what you contracted. In most cases, people recover within a day or two.

If you do have food poisoning, the best thing you can do is avoid food and liquids for a few hours and slowly reintroduce water when you’re no longer vomiting. Besides water, make sure to drink other liquids that have electrolytes in them.

When you can begin to eat solid foods again, it’s recommended you start with:

• Toast

• Crackers

• Cereal

• Pasta / Rice

Make sure to avoid alcohol, dairy products and fatty foods as they can irritate the stomach.

Closing thoughts on food poisoning

There are a few things you can do to help prevent getting food poisoning. For starters, make sure to wash your hands with hot and soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after you handle your food (especially meat and fresh produce).

When you’re preparing food, separate your uncooked meat from your other ingredients and use separate utensils and cutting boards when preparing them. After you’ve cooked your meat and checked it with a thermometer, always make sure to refrigerate or freeze your perishable foods within two hours.

By following these recommendations, you’ll significantly help reduce your chances of getting food poisoning.

With Pacific First Aid, you can learn all about food safety and standard first aid courses online through our programs. Not only is our food safety course perfect for the average person, but it’s helpful for restaurant owners and managers as well.