Symptoms and Signs of Food Poisoning

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/31/2022

Doctor's Notes on Food Poisoning

The term food poisoning has been used to refer to a foodborne illness. This can be due to the consumption of food that contains a toxin, chemical, or infectious agent (such as a bacterium, virus, parasite, or prion). Most commonly, foodborne illnesses are caused by Norovirus or the bacterial types CampylobacterClostridium perfringens, and Salmonella.  

Symptoms of food poisoning may arise from the gastrointestinal tract or in some cases may be more widespread and involve other body systems. The most common symptoms are:

Vomiting and diarrhea may cause significant fluid loss, leading to symptoms and signs of dehydration. Abnormalities in electrolyte balance can affect the function of a number of body systems. Other associated symptoms may include:

What Is the Treatment for Food Poisoning?

Most cases of food poisoning are mild and do not require specific treatment beyond maintaining adequate hydration:

  • Fluids and electrolytes (essential minerals like sodium and potassium) can be replaced by consuming bland foods and sports drinks.
  • Children and babies may require oral rehydration solutions.
  • In severe cases, administration of IV fluids in the hospital may be needed.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.