Symptoms of Food Poisoning 

Food poisoning is a common and distressing aliment affecting millions of people across the world and can sometimes get you into a life-threatening situation. It is caused due to ingesting food containing harmful organisms like bacteria, parasites, and viruses. They are predominantly present in non-vegetarian foods such as chicken, fish, eggs and raw meat; however, they can spread to other food items also.

Mild food poisoning usually fades in a few days when the body eliminates the organisms causing the ailment. However, please seek medical help if the symptoms of food poisoning are serious and persist.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Depending on the cause of food poisoning and the organism causing it, the symptoms of food poisoning may start within 2-6 hours of eating the food. The onset time also varies concerning the ingested quantity of organisms in the food.

1. Common Symptoms of Food Poisoning

  • Diarrhea or loose watery stools more than three times a day is a very common symptom of food poisoning. Sometimes there might be blood and mucus in the stools as well.  
  • Vomiting is also another common symptom and occurs for a day or more. It can cause dehydration and should not be ignored.
  • Crampy pains in tummy. Due to diarrhea and vomiting, crampy pain may be felt in the abdomen. The pain may be relived a little when the stools are passed.
  • Fever and chills, headache, and aching limbs sometimes may occur. Fever may bring about mild or severe headache; weakness due to fever and diarrhea may cause aching in the limbs.
  • Dehydration may occur as a result of diarrhea and vomiting. It can cause symptoms of dizziness or light-headedness, headaches, muscle cramps, dryness in mouth and tongue, weakness and tiredness, reduced quantity of urine and sunken eyes as well. In case of severe dehydration, symptoms like weakness, rapid heart rate, confusion can be seen.

2. Symptoms of Chemical Food Poisoning

Symptoms of chemical or toxin food poisoning such as that from poisonous mushrooms include:

  • Excess salivation
  • Tearing in the eyes
  • Mental confusion
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

3. Symptoms of Bacterial Food Poisoning

 Botulism, caused by a bacteria Clostridium botulinum, is a very rare but severe type of food poisoning. It can cause symptoms of:

  • Partial loss of speech or vision
  • Muscle paralysis
  • Dryness of mouth
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Vomiting

How to React When Suffering from Food Poisoning

In most cases, food poisoning doesn’t require medical attention. One usually recovers from the common food poisoning within a few days. Listed below are some measures which you can take to ease your symptoms of food poisoning. However, it is another matter if the symptoms are caused by mushrooms or shellfish; when this occurs, seek medical help immediately.



Drink more water

To keep your body hydrated and ensure all the fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea replaced, sipping water or sucking ice chips helps.

Have enough rest

Diarrhea, vomiting and fever lead to weakness; hence enough rest should be taken to give the body a chance to recover.

Avoid caffeinated beverages or dairy products

Products containing caffeine or dairy items act like irritants to the stomach which is already not functioning properly.

Keep energy up

In spite of not having an appetite, it is essential to consume foods to avoid weakness. Clear broth, soda and electrolyte beverages can be consumed.

Start with digestible foods

Easily digestible food like soft rice, apple sauce, bananas and toast can be consumed once the vomiting has ceased.

Take a probiotic

A lot of good bacteria are lost due to diarrhea and it is helpful to consume probiotic which will restore the bacteria balance in the gut and help you digest food.

Avoid anti-diarrheal medications

Anti-diarrheal medication will stop the body from eliminating the harmful organisms present in your system and make the situation worse.

For more home remedies to help you feel better, please watch the following video

When to See a Doctor

If you experience the following symptoms of food poisoning, please consult your doctor should be consulted immediately:

  • The food poisoning is caused due to consumption of sea food or mushrooms.
  • The symptoms persist for over 3 days.
  • There is blood in the stools.
  • The patient starts exhibiting fever, persistent and prolonged vomiting and inability to keep food down.
  • There are symptoms of severe dehydration.

How to Prevent Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be avoided by ensuring that food is handled safely and any unsafe food is avoided completely. Sometimes food poisoning is caused by the way foods are handled, prepared or produced.

  1. Wash hands, fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking or eating.
  2. Seal and refrigerate foods properly, especially frozen foods, do not keep any food in the open.
  3. Cook thoroughly. Ensure that all food especially non-vegetarian foods should be cooked thoroughly.
  4. Sanitize the kitchen ware. Any utensils, chopping boards or other kitchen ware which is used for raw meat should be cleaned thoroughly or sanitized prior to being used for other foods.
  5. Keep informed of food-borne illness. Always be aware of any food recalls and news of food related outbreaks. Discard food which may be reported as contaminated.
  6. Avoid high-risk foods. When in doubt, do not eat. Individuals who are more susceptible to sever reaction to food poisoning should avoid foods like sushi, soft cheese, unpasteurized juice or milk and deli meat.