Chances are you’ve experienced food poisoning symptoms at some point in your life. If you were lucky, the case was mild and ran its course in a day or two. In some people, though, food poisoning symptoms are severe or last for a longer period of time. And in rare cases, some people end up with serious long-term health effects. Foodborne illness can lead to severe dehydration, anemia and even death. Children, seniors, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to food poisoning.
Food poisoning may lead to diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, cramps, fever and loss of appetite. Food poisoning symptoms can appear hours or even days after you eat contaminated food or drink. In most cases, food poisoning symptoms last for only 48 hours. Seek medical attention if you have a frequent diarrhea for more than three days, significant abdominal pain, bloody stools or vomit, high fever or an inability to keep liquids down. You should also call a doctor if you develop symptoms of dehydration, such as dry mouth, dizziness, confusion and/or decreased urination, or if you have other concerns. The doctor may do a physical exam and check a stool specimen. If you are dehydrated, your doctor might recommend oral or intravenous fluids and electrolyte replacement. In severe cases, hospitalization with more aggressive treatment may be needed. For most people, though, simply lying low for a few days can help beat food poisoning.