Illnesses that are caused by food are known as food poisoning. It can be viral or bacterial, or caused by a parasite in food. Also, food can be contaminated during the processing if it’s handled with unwashed hands or cooked with a rather low temperature. Food poisoning affect millions of people all over the world each year. It is estimated that about one in six Americans get food poisoning. Food poisoning may or may not have any symptoms, but most often causes diarrhea and dehydration. This can sometimes be fatal if it’s severe and untreated.
How Long Does Food Poisoning Take to Kick In?
If you are wondering “how long does food poisoning take to kick in”, the answer depends on the contaminant in the food. Most often, food poisoning symptoms begin around two to six hours after eating the offending food. Some people get sick within minutes of eating, and some get sick a few days after eating bad food.
1. Quick Onset Toxins
There are certain types of food poisoning that may kick in right after eating or within a few hours of eating:
- Staphylococcus aureus. This type of bacteria can be found in meats, sandwich spreads, seafood and salads. Symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting can come on within four hours of eating food that contain staph.
- Clostridium botulinum. This type of bacteria is found in fish, soil and plants. Mostly, foods that are canned at home contain this bacterium. Symptoms like trouble breathing and blurry vision can set in and infection caused by it can even be fatal.
2. Slow Onset Toxins
Slow onset toxin food poisoning usually comes on within 12 hours to up to a day after ingestion:
- Salmonella. This type of food poisoning affects the intestinal tract and is found in undercooked meat, fish, eggs and poultry. It can also be spread from raw meat to cooked foods. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, chills, fever and diarrhea.
- Vibrio parahaemolyticus. This is found in both cooked and raw types of seafood. People have this type of food poisoning may experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache.
- Clostridium perfringens. This is a bacterium that is often found in gravy, sauce, poultry and meat. It is a spore that comes from the digestive tracts of humans and animals. Symptoms consist of abdominal cramping and diarrhea.
How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?
People who got food poisoning keep wonder “how long does food poisoning last?” It is understandable since the illness can often cause severe symptoms which are not so good to company with. If the case is mild, it should only last one or two days and go away on its own. If you experience symptoms for longer than a few days, you should contact your doctor. And one cause of the prolonged food poisoning is the Cyclospora parasite, which can cause diarrhea that lasts up to a few weeks.
What to Do If You Think You Got Food Poisoning
1. Seek Medical Help
Mild food poisoning usually doesn’t need medical attention. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor:
- Dehydration if vomiting or diarrhea lasts more than two days (mouth or eye dryness, low urine output)
- Vomiting blood or bloody diarrhea
- Slurring of your speech
- Unable to keep liquids down over 24 hours
- Blurry vision
2. Make a Report to the Local Health Department
Food poisoning that happens in restaurants needs to be reported to the local health department. They will send out a health officer to investigate the facility and check for cleanliness and healthy food preparation practices to prevent it from happening again.
How Is Food Poisoning Treated?
If your food poisoning is severe and lasts longer than two days, you need to contact a doctor. Treatment is based on the type of bacteria, virus, or parasite that caused the illness. However, as we mentioned above, if the food poisoning is mild, you can follow these suggestions to treat it at home:
1. Keep Hydrated
Dehydration from food poisoning raises the risk of complications, it can also make you feel sicker. Vomiting and diarrhea can deplete your body’s fluid levels very quickly. Take small sips of water often, especially right after a loose bowel movement or vomiting.
2. Try Electrolyte Replacement Solutions
Electrolyte replacement solutions are available over-the-counter at the drug store and can help to replace the potassium, sodium, and sugar lost during mild dehydration. Some are premixed in bottles and some are in pouches that can be mixed with water. If you have a health condition, check with your doctor before using them.
3. Take Antibiotics When Prescribed
If you have a bacterial type of food poisoning, your doctor will give you antibiotics to help clear up the infection. Pregnant women need immediate antibiotic treatment because the infection may affect the growing fetus. If you have listeria, you will need to be treated with intravenous antibiotics.
4. More Tips to Better Cope with Food Poisoning
If you can manage your symptoms, just know that most cases of food poisoning resolve in 48 hours. These home tips can help you feel better sooner:
- Get plenty of rest. Let your body rest, so it can heal itself.
- Rest rour stomach. If you are vomiting, do not eat for four hours after the last vomiting episode and take small sips of water over the first hour.
- Eat ice chips. Ice chips prevent you from gulping down too much water, which can cause you to vomit again. After the first hour if you haven’t vomited, try clear broth, jello, or an electrolyte drink. Proof that you’re hydrated enough is your urine will be light and almost clear.
- Take it slow with food. Nibble on some crackers at first, then progress to jello, bananas, rice, or toast. If you feel like you are going to vomit again, hold off on eating for a while longer.
- Eat easy. Hold off on dairy, spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, and high fat fried foods until you feel better.
Besides these caring methods, here are some effective home remedies you can try: 10 Work-Fast Home Remedies for Food Poisoning. And during post food poisoning stage, you should keep in mind that there’re some food you can eat, yet some you can’t. To help you clear the clouds, here’s What to Eat after Food Poisoning.
A Word About Having Your Stomach Pumped for Food Poisoning
Many people ask if they have eaten contaminated food, can the doctor pump it out to prevent food poisoning or heal the illness. Unfortunately, the answer is “no.” Stomach pumping is used for the accidental ingestion of a poisonous substance such as medications or chemical to prevent liver damage. Food poisoning is an illness, not an actual poisoning, with no adverse effects to the liver. Once the food is ingested, the illness needs to either run its course or be treated with an antibiotic. The diarrhea and vomiting that go along with food poisoning are the body’s natural ways of expelling the offending substance.