Foodborne botulism

Signs and symptoms of foodborne botulism typically begin between 12 and 36 hours after the toxin gets into your body. But, the start of symptoms can range from a few hours to several days, depending on the amount of toxin ingested. Signs and symptoms of foodborne botulism include:

  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • Dry mouth
  • Facial weakness on both sides of the face
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps
  • Paralysis

Wound botulism

Most people who develop wound botulism inject drugs several times a day, so it's difficult to know for sure how long it takes for signs and symptoms to develop after the toxin enters the body. Wound botulism signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • Facial weakness on both sides of the face
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Trouble breathing
  • Paralysis

Infant botulism

If infant botulism is related to food, such as honey, problems generally begin within 18 to 36 hours after the toxin enters the baby's body. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Constipation (often the first sign)
  • Floppy movements due to muscle weakness and trouble controlling the head
  • Weak cry
  • Irritability
  • Drooling
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty sucking or feeding
  • Paralysis

Certain signs and symptoms usually don't occur with botulism. For example, botulism doesn't generally increase blood pressure or heart rate, or cause fever or confusion. However, sometimes, wound botulism may cause fever.

When to see a doctor

Seek urgent medical care if you suspect that you have botulism. Early treatment increases your chances of survival, and lessens your risk of complications.

Seeking medical care promptly may also alert public health authorities. They may then be able to keep other people from eating contaminated food.

June 13, 2015