Food Poisoning Symptoms also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning. Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food at any point of processing or production. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked. Food poisoning symptoms, which can start within hours of eating contaminated food, often include nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Most often, food poisoning is mild and resolves without treatment. But some people need to go to the hospital.
Food Poisoning Symptoms
Food Poisoning Symptoms is caused by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing microbes or pathogens can contaminate foods, so there are many different types of foodborne illnesses. Most foodborne diseases are infections caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Other diseases are poisonings caused by harmful toxins or chemicals that have contaminated food.
Of note many foodborne pathogens also can be acquired through recreational or drinking water, from contact with animals or their environment, or through person-to-person spread. Food poisoning can become dangerous if it leads to severe dehydration or other complications. The symptoms listed below may suggest that an adult or child has a severe form of food poisoning, dehydration or other complications, or a serious health problem other than food poisoning. Anyone with these signs or symptoms should see a doctor right away.
Food Poisoning Symptoms
Adults should also see a doctor if they aren’t able to drink enough liquids or oral rehydration solutions—such as Pedialyte, Naturalyte, Infalyte, and CeraLyte—to prevent dehydration or if they do not improve after drinking oral rehydration solutions.
Older adults, pregnant women, and adults with a weakened immune system or another health condition should also see a doctor right away if they have any symptoms of food poisoning.
If an infant or child has signs or symptoms of food poisoning, don’t hesitate to call a doctor for advice. Diarrhea is especially dangerous in newborns and infants, leading to severe dehydration in just a day or two. A child with symptoms of dehydration can die within a day if left untreated.
If you are the parent or caretaker of an infant or child with any of the following signs or symptoms, seek a doctor’s help right away
- change in the child’s mental state, such as irritability or lack of energy
- diarrhea lasting more than a day
- any fever in infants
- high fever in older children
- frequent loose stools
- vomiting often
- nervous system symptoms
- severe pain in the abdomen or rectum
- signs or symptoms of complications, such as dehydration or hemolytic uremic syndrome
- stools that are black and tarry or contain blood or pus
You should also seek a doctor’s help right away if a child has signs or symptoms of food poisoning and the child is an infant, was born prematurely, or has a history of other medical conditions. Also seek a doctor’s help right away if the child is not able to drink enough liquids or oral rehydration solutions to prevent dehydration or if the child does not improve after drinking oral rehydration solutions.
Infections with microbes viruses, bacteria, and parasites cause most food poisoning.2 Harmful chemicals also cause some cases of food poisoning.
Microbes can spread to food at any time while the food is grown, harvested or slaughtered, processed, stored, shipped, or prepared.
Some harmful microbes may already be present in foods when you buy them. Foods that may contain microbes include
- fresh produce
- raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and eggs
- dairy products and fruit juices that have not been pasteurized—heated to kill harmful microbes
- fish and shellfish
- foods that people handle during preparation, sometimes called “deli foods,” such as sliced meat, salads and cut fruit, sandwiches, and baked goods
- processed and ready-to-eat meats such as hot dogs or deli meat
- foods that are not properly canned or sealed
If you don’t keep raw foods—such as beef, poultry, seafood, and eggs—separate from other foods, microbes from the raw foods can spread to other foods. Microbes can also spread from raw foods to your hands, kitchen utensils, cutting boards, and kitchen surfaces during food preparation. If you don’t wash your hands, utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces completely after they have come into contact with raw foods, they can spread microbes to other foods.