If you think you or a loved one has food poisoning, it is important to know the signs and symptoms. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include:
- Upset stomach
- Stomach cramps
Mild or Severe Symptoms
Many cases of food poisoning present with mild symptoms and with a complete recovery occurring in only a couple of days, but sometimes food poisoning can cause severe complications and/or death.
People who suffer a bout of food poisoning can have food poisoning symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe intestinal pain, which some sufferers remaining symptom-free.
Again, many of the food poisoning symptoms depend on the type and amount of contaminant ingested. Some symptoms develop rapidly while others may take days or weeks to manifest.
Top 5 Signs & Symptoms of Severe Food Poisoning
If you have any of these food poisoning symptoms, you should see a doctor or healthcare professional immediately.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit
- Frequent vomiting
- Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
Experts at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  estimate that food poisoning affects almost 80 million people annually, causing nearly 8 million deaths worldwide.
It is only natural for somebody who is experiencing the signs of food poisoning to turn to the Internet for information related to their potential food-borne illness. The link above will take you directly to the CDC Food Safety website but if you'd like to jump straight to their food poisoning symptoms page, please click the following: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/symptoms.html
Food poisoning is when a person becomes ill from eating contaminated food. Common contaminants that can cause food poisoning include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins. There are over 250 known agents that can cause food poisoning and nearly 60% of food poisoning outbreaks are caused by unknown agents.
Time to First Symptoms of Food Poisoning
The amount of time that it takes for food poisoning symptoms to appear varies depending on the contaminate ingested.
Once you swallow contaminated food or drink, it may take hours or days to develop food poisoning symptoms. If you have symptoms of food poisoning, such as diarrhea or vomiting, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
You may also be interested in learning about some common food poisoning treatments.
Different Causes of Food Poisoning and Onset of Food Poisoning Symptoms
Different types of food poisoning exhibit different symptoms. The most frequent food poisoning causes include:
- Staph Aureus – symptoms include rapid onset of nausea, dizziness, severe vomiting, and abdominal cramping.
- Symptoms will begin 30 minutes to 8 hours after ingestion.
- Foods that are not cooked after handling are the common culprits of this type of food poisoning including sliced meats, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches.
- Cyclospora - Watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue.
- Symptoms will begin 1 week after ingestion.
- This is one of the few types of food poisoning that is caused exclusively by raw fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
- E. Coli – symptoms begin with large amounts of watery diarrhea and fever, then progresses to severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
- Symptoms will begin 3 to 4 days after ingestion.
- Some common sources of E. coli poisoning are raw or undercooked ground beef, raw (unpasteurized) milk and juice, raw vegetables, and unsafe water.
- Salmonella – symptoms include headache, nausea, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea accompanied by abdominal cramping.
- Symptoms will begin 6 hours to 6 days after ingestion.
- Salmonella poisoning can be from raw or undercooked meat, eggs, unpasteurized milk (raw milk), juice, raw fruits, and vegetables.
- Shigella – symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea containing blood and/or mucus, and a persistent urge to have a bowel movement.
- Symptoms will begin 12 to 48 hours after ingestion.
- This is can be caused by food preparation handlers with poor hygiene, contaminated water, potato salad, tuna salad, shrimp salad, macaroni salad, chicken salad, raw vegetables, and sandwiches.
- Campylobacter – symptoms include fever, malaise, headache, muscle aches, stomach aches, and diarrhea (often bloody).
- Symptoms will begin 2 to 5 days after ingestion.
- Some common sources of Campylobacter poisoning are raw or undercooked poultry, raw (unpasteurized) milk, and unsafe water.
- Cholera – symptoms may include headache, fever with chills, nausea, leg cramps, watery diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
- Symptoms will begin 12 hours to 5 days after ingestion.
- Cholera poisoning can be caused by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated foods such as raw shellfish.
- Botulism – symptoms start with blurred or double vision, then progress to speech problems, general weakness, difficulty swallowing, breathing difficulty, and partial paralysis.
- Symptoms will begin 18 to 36 hours after ingestion.
- Botulism poisoning is usually caused by improperly canned or fermented foods.
- Mushroom Poisoning – generally, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Depending on the type of mushroom ingested, individuals may experience shaking, sweating, and hallucinations.
- Symptoms of mushroom poisoning can happen almost immediately after ingesting a poisonous mushroom or could take up to or longer than 6 hours.
- You get mushroom poisoning from eating a poisonous mushroom or consuming a meal or tea that contains the poisonous mushroom.
- Listeria – symptoms may include fever, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle aches. If the poisoning starts to affect the nervous system, individuals may experience a stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, and/or convulsions. There is an especially important risk to the newborn of a pregnant woman.
- Symptoms will begin 1 to 4 weeks after ingestion.
- Listeria poisonings are commonly caused by Queso fresco and other soft cheeses, raw sprouts, melons, hot dogs, pâtés, deli meats, smoked seafood, and raw milk.
- Bacillus Cereus (B. cereus) – symptoms include a rapid onset of nausea and vomiting and may or may not include diarrhea and abdominal cramping.
- Symptoms will begin 6 to 15 hours after ingestion.
- Fish, raw milk, desserts, soups, salads, cheeses, pasta, rice, and potatoes are common culprits.
- Fish Poisoning – symptoms may include numbness or a burning sensation around the mouth and lips, nausea, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, a red rash on the upper body, muscle pain, vomiting, and general weakness.
- Symptoms will begin 2 to 12 hours after ingestion.
- Fish poisoning is caused by consuming fish or shellfish that are contaminated by toxins, bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
- Yersinia – abdominal pain on the right side of the body is the predominant symptom, followed by fever and bloody diarrhea.
- Symptoms will begin several days to a week after ingestion.
- Causes include raw or undercooked pork, unpasteurized milk, and contaminated water.
- Vibrio - Watery diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills.
- Symptoms will begin 2 to 48 hours after ingestion.
- This type of illness is usually caused by consuming raw or undercooked shellfish and oysters.
- C. perfringens - Diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, cramps.
- Symptoms will begin 6 to 24 hours after ingestion. This sort of food poisoning illness will usually begin suddenly and can last for less than 24 hours.
- Common methods of getting sickened with this include eating beef or poultry, especially large roasts, gravies, dried foods, and precooked foods.
- Norovirus - Diarrhea, nausea/stomach pain, vomiting
- Symptoms will begin 12 to 48 hours after ingestion.
- Norovirus can be picked up from touching a contaminated surface as well as from consuming leafy greens, fresh fruits, shellfish, or unsafe water.
Food poisonings cause the death of nearly 8 million deaths annually, over 5,000 in the United States alone. The elderly and infants have the highest risk of contracting food poisoning.
Individuals with weakened immune systems, people who frequently travel outside of the United States, and pregnant women also have a high risk of developing complications from food poisoning.
Individuals are warned to seek medical treatment if food poisoning is the suspected cause of illness, as some cases of food poisoning can become life-threatening in a relatively short time period.
When should I call my doctor about food poisoning symptoms?
The CDC says that you should see your doctor or healthcare provider if you have symptoms that are severe, including:
- Bloody diarrhea
- High fever (temperature over 102°F, measured in your mouth)
- Frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
- Signs of dehydration, including little or no urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy when standing up
- Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice. If you feel that you or someone you know has food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately by visiting your doctor of by dialing 911.
Do I have a Food Poisoning Lawsuit? Talk with a Food Poisoning Lawyer.
The Food Poisoning Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in food poisoning lawsuits. We are handling individual and group outbreak litigation nationwide and currently accepting new food poisoning cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of food poisoning, you should contact our lawyers immediately by using the form below or dialing (866) 588-0600. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries by filing a food poisoning lawsuit and we can help.