Food Poisoning (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Food poisoning facts
- What is food poisoning?
- What are the signs and symptoms of food poisoning?
- Are food poisoning and stomach flu the same thing?
- How long does food poisoning last?
- What are the types of food poisoning?
- What are the causes of food poisoning?
- Short incubation of less than 16 to 24 hours
- Intermediate incubation from about 1 to 3 days
- Long incubation of 3 to 5 days
- Very long incubation of up to a month
- When should the doctor be called for food poisoning?
- How is food poisoning diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for food poisoning?
- Are there any home remedies for food poisoning?
- How can food poisoning be prevented?
- What are the complications of food poisoning?
- What is the prognosis for someone with food poisoning?
- Food Poisoning Dangers Slideshow
- Food Frauds Slideshow
- Take the Summer Food Safety Quiz
- Summer Food Safety FAQs
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What are the signs and symptoms of food poisoning?
Food poisoning most commonly causes:
- abdominal cramps,
- vomiting, and
This can cause significant amounts of fluid loss and diarrhea along with nausea and vomiting may make it difficult to replace lost fluid, leading to dehydration. In developing countries where infectious epidemics cause diarrheal illnesses, thousands of people die because of dehydration.
As noted in the section above, other organ systems may be infected and affected by food poisoning. Symptoms will depend upon what organ system is involved (for example, encephalopathy due to brain infection).
Are food poisoning and stomach flu the same thing?
Food poisoning and the stomach flu may or may not be the same thing, depending if the causative agent is transmitted by contaminated food, or if the agent is transmitted by non-food mechanisms such as body secretions. Most health-care professionals equate stomach flu to viral gastroenteritis.
Stomach flu is a non-specific term that describes an illness that usually resolves within 24 hours and is caused commonly by the adenovirus, Norwalk virus or rotavirus, (rotavirus is most commonly found in children).
Learn more about: adenovirus
If numerous cases of "stomach flu" occur in a situation where many people have been eating, it certainly may be considered food poisoning. Norwalk virus is responsible for many cases of food borne illness outbreaks on cruise ships.
How long does food poisoning last?
Most cases of food poisoning last about 1 to 2 days and symptoms resolve on their own. If symptoms persist longer than that, the affected person should contact their health-care professional.
Cyclospora infections may be difficult to detect and diarrhea may last for weeks. health-care professionals may consider this parasite as the potential cause of food poisoning in patients with prolonged symptoms.
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