What Does Food Poisoning Feel Like?

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can cause a range of symptoms that can vary in severity depending on the type of bacteria or virus causing the infection. Some common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  1. Nausea and vomiting: These are among the most common symptoms of food poisoning. They usually occur within a few hours of eating contaminated food.

  2. Diarrhea: This is another common symptom of food poisoning. Diarrhea can be watery or bloody, and can last for several days.

  3. Abdominal pain and cramping: Food poisoning can cause severe abdominal pain and cramping. This can be especially painful for children and older adults.

  4. Fever: Some types of food poisoning can cause a fever, which can be a sign that the infection has spread beyond the digestive system.

  5. Dehydration: Diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration, which can be dangerous if not treated promptly.

If you experience any of these symptoms after eating contaminated food, it is important to seek medical attention. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to complications such as kidney failure, meningitis, and even death.

Causes of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that contaminate food. Some of the most common causes of food poisoning include:

  1. Salmonella: This bacteria is found in many types of food, including poultry, eggs, and raw vegetables.

  2. E. coli: This bacteria is found in undercooked ground beef and raw produce such as spinach and lettuce.

  3. Listeria: This bacteria is found in deli meats, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized dairy products.

  4. Norovirus: This virus is highly contagious and can be spread through contaminated food or water.

  5. Campylobacter: This bacteria is commonly found in undercooked poultry and unpasteurized dairy products.

  6. Botulism: This rare but serious type of food poisoning is caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which is found in improperly canned or preserved foods.

To prevent food poisoning, it is important to follow proper food safety practices, such as washing hands and surfaces often, cooking food to the appropriate temperature, and avoiding cross-contamination of raw and cooked foods.

Treatment for Food Poisoning

The treatment for food poisoning depends on the severity of the symptoms and the type of bacteria or virus causing the infection. In most cases, the symptoms will go away on their own within a few days. However, there are some steps you can take to help alleviate the symptoms of food poisoning:

  1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration, especially if you are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting.

  2. Rest: Get plenty of rest to help your body fight off the infection.

  3. Avoid solid foods: Stick to a bland diet of clear liquids, such as broth and electrolyte solutions, until your symptoms improve.

  4. Take medication: In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to help alleviate symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea.

  5. Seek medical attention: If your symptoms are severe or last for more than a few days, it is important to seek medical attention. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary to prevent dehydration or other complications.

It is important to remember that antibiotics are not always necessary for treating food poisoning, and may actually do more harm than good in some cases. Your doctor will determine the best course of treatment based on the type of bacteria or virus causing the infection and the severity of your symptoms.

Prevention of Food Poisoning

Preventing food poisoning is key to avoiding the uncomfortable and potentially dangerous symptoms of this condition. Here are some steps you can take to prevent food poisoning:

  1. Wash your hands: Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food, after using the restroom, and after handling pets or changing diapers.

  2. Cook food thoroughly: Make sure to cook meat, poultry, and eggs to their proper internal temperature to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.

  3. Store food properly: Store raw meats and poultry in separate containers to avoid cross-contamination, and keep all perishable foods refrigerated at 40°F or below.

  4. Avoid risky foods: Avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs, meats, and seafood, and be cautious with foods that are past their expiration date or have been stored improperly.

  5. Be aware of food recalls: Stay up-to-date on food recalls and avoid consuming any products that have been recalled due to contamination.

By following these steps, you can reduce your risk of contracting food poisoning and protect your health. If you do experience symptoms of food poisoning, seek medical attention promptly to prevent further complications.


Food poisoning can be a miserable experience, but there are steps you can take to prevent and treat it. By following proper food safety practices, such as washing your hands, cooking food to the proper temperature, and storing food properly, you can reduce your risk of contracting a foodborne illness. If you do experience symptoms of food poisoning, stay hydrated, rest, and seek medical attention if necessary. With the right care and treatment, you can recover from food poisoning and get back to enjoying your favorite foods.

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