Food poisoning is caused by eating foods that contain infectious organisms such as parasites, viruses, bacteria or other toxins. If food is not cooked or handled properly, contamination can occur.
What Are the Symptoms of Food Poisoning?
A person who has eaten contaminated food can experience food poisoning symptoms within a few hours. However, the symptoms may vary depending on the kind of parasite, virus or bacteria that infects you and how well your immune system is fighting against it.
Here are the common signs and symptoms of food poisoning:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Feeling sick
- Weakness and fatigue
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
How Long Does It Take to Feel the Effects of Food Poisoning?
The effects of food poisoning start within 24 to 48 hours of eating contaminated foods. Different organisms work at various speeds; some can cause symptoms within 30 minutes of eating contaminated foods, and some can cause symptoms even after a week.
How Do You Know If You Got Food Poisoning?
Your signs and symptoms, foods you ate, and how long you have been sick can help to diagnose food poisoning. If required, your doctor may perform a physical test to identify the signs of dehydration. Dehydration can also cause headaches, weakness, and dry skin or mouth.
Based on your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may conduct the following tests to identify the cause and confirm the diagnosis.
It is the most common diagnostic test for food poisoning. Your doctor may recommend this test if you have severe stomach pain, fever, or other symptoms that persist. They will send a sample of your stool to the lab, where technicians will identify the kind of organism you are infected with.
This test may be recommended if your doctor thinks your infection has spread into the blood. A blood test is helpful to identify the bacteria, virus, inflammation, and signs of dehydration.
When to See a Doctor for Food Poisoning
A mild food poisoning does not cause any severe symptoms and sufficient rest and taking plenty of fluids can cure it. However, you must visit your doctor if you have severe symptoms, including:
- Diarrhea that lasts more than three days
- Bleeding in your digestive tract
- Frequent vomiting
- High fever
- Signs of dehydration such as dizziness, dry mouth or throat, and sunken eyes
- Muscle weakness
- Severe gut pain
- Blurry vision
- Tingling in your arms
How Do You Cure Food Poisoning?
A mild food poisoning does not require any treatment. Some types of food poisoning may last longer and require treatment. Food poisoning treatment may include:
Replacement of Lost Electrolytes and Fluids
Signs of food poisoning such as diarrhea or vomiting can cause loss of fluids and electrolytes. People with persistent vomiting or diarrhea need to be hospitalized, where they can receive fluids and electrolytes intravenously to treat dehydration.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have bacterial food poisoning and your symptoms are severe.
Also, for a few days, you must:
- Avoid fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol
- Drink plenty of water or electrolyte solution
- Get plenty of rest