Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever

Signs and symptoms may start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they may begin days or possibly even weeks later. Sickness caused by food poisoning generally lasts from one to 10 days.

When to see a doctor

If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, seek medical attention.

  • Frequent episodes of vomiting that interfere with your ability to keep liquids down
  • Vomiting blood
  • Severe diarrhea for more than three days
  • Blood in your bowel movements
  • Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping
  • An oral temperature higher than 101.5 F (38.6 C)
  • Signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Double vision
  • Muscle weakness that progresses downward

If you suspect food poisoning, also contact your local health department. Your report can help the health department identify a potential outbreak and may help prevent other people from getting sick. You may need to describe what you ate, where got the food you think is making you sick, when you got sick and your symptoms.

Jun. 16, 2011