Food poisoning is often diagnosed based on a detailed history, including how long you've been sick, your symptoms and specific foods you've eaten. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam, looking for signs of dehydration.
Depending on your symptoms and health history, your doctor may conduct diagnostic tests, such as a blood test, stool culture or examination for parasites, to identify the cause and confirm the diagnosis.
For a stool culture, your doctor will send a sample of your stool to a laboratory, where a technician will try to identify the infectious organism. If an organism is found, your doctor likely will notify your local health department to determine if the food poisoning is linked to an outbreak.
In some cases, the cause of food poisoning can't be identified.
July 24, 2014
- Foodborne illness, foodborne disease, (sometimes called "food poisoning"). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/facts.html. Accessed April 16, 2014.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Diagnosis and management of foodborne illnesses: A primer for physicians and other health care professionals. MMWR. 2004;53:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5304a1.htm. Accessed April 16, 2014.
- Acheson DWK. Patient information: Food-poisoning (foodborne illness). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 17, 2014.
- Foodborne illness. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/bacteria/index.aspx. Accessed April 16, 2014.
- The big thaw — Safe defrosting methods for consumers. Food Safety and Inspection Service. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/the-big-thaw-safe-defrosting-methods-for-consumers/CT_Index. Accessed April 17, 2014.
- Wanke CA. Approach to the adult with acute diarrhea in developed countries. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 17, 2014.
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