Font Size

Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning Quick Overview

  • Food poisoning is a disease that usually results in vomiting and diarrhea after a person eats or drinks fluids contaminated with certain bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals (toxins).
  • The most common symptoms and signs of food poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Other symptoms that may occur are fever, abdominal pain and/or cramps.
  • Severe signs and symptoms may include dehydration, blood in vomit or stools, diarrhea over three days, and neurologic symptoms; for example, weakness, blurry vision, and an abnormal sensation of the body such as burning, tingling, or numbness (paresthesias).
  • Causes include many agents including viral and bacterial strains, parasites, and chemicals (toxins).
  • Depending on the cause of food poisoning, the duration of the majority of food poisoning usually ranges from a few hours after exposure to contaminated food or fluid to several days.
  • Treatment of food poisoning depends on the cause; most people self-cure in a few days, but some causes may benefit from specific antibiotic or antiparasite treatments once the cause is identified.
  • Home remedies to soothe food poisoning symptoms may help speed recovery and may include:
    • Rest
    • Rehydration
    • Slowly begin to eat bland foods like rice, bananas, toast, gelatin
    • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, fatty, and seasoned or spicy foods)

What is the definition of food poisoning?

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with viruses, bacteria, toxins, parasites, or chemicals. Typical symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea.

What foods are most commonly associated with food poisoning?

Foods most commonly associated with food poisoning include:

  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Meats
  • Unpasteurized milk or other fluids
  • Cheese,
  • Raw fruits and vegetables (usually unwashed
  • Nuts
  • Spices

What is the difference between food poisoning and gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?

Gastroenteritis (stomach flu) is defined as an infection or irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the stomach or intestines. It is a slightly more specific term that describes a particular type of food poisoning. However, the term is used most often to describe stomach irritation or inflammation due to infection, including non-food-related infections.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/13/2015

Must Read Articles Related to Food Poisoning

E. coli  (Escherichia coli 0157:H7) Infection
E. coli: Escherichia coli 0157:H7, E. coli 0157:H7 Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (E. coli 0157:H7) infections are caused by bacterial. E. coli 0157:H7 is one of the most virulent strains and is passed from person to ...learn more >>
Giardiasis Giardiasis is an infection of the small bowel caused by Giardia lamblia. It is the most common intestinal parasitic disease in the U.S. Causes of giardiasis inc...learn more >>
Listeria monocytogenes Infection Listeriosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and muscle aches. Treatment for lis...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Food Poisoning:

Food Poisoning - Experience

Please describe your experience with food poisoning.

Food Poisoning - Causes

What caused your case of food poisoning?

Food Poisoning - Symptoms

What symptoms did you experience with food poisoning?

Food Poisoning - Home Remedies

What home remedies were effective in treating symptoms of food poisoning?

Salmonella infection

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

The symptoms of Salmonella infections depend on the overall health of the infected person (for example, normal or with a suppressed immune system) and the particular serovar infecting the patient. Symptoms usually begin about 12-72 hours after ingestion of the bacteria. In general, people contract S. spp (for example, serovars S. enteritidis, S. cholerasuis) that usually cause a self-limiting diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting termed salmonellosis or S. gastroenteritis.