How Do You Know If You Have Food Poisoning?

June 27, 2018
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Many cases of food poisoning are linked to incorrectly handled, cooked, or prepared foods, such as meat or eggs, or improper storage. Bacteria can also quickly multiply in foods that are not properly chilled. Some raw foods, such as bean sprouts, fresh fruits, and lettuce, can harbor bacteria capable of causing food poisoning. In these cases, washing is inadequate, as the fruits or vegetables will have taken up contaminated water while growing.
Most people suspect food poisoning after they experience serious stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. It is usually linked to a particular food or drink. Symptoms can manifest within as little as a few hours, or within a day or two.
Although it is rarely serious, food poisoning can cause dehydration if the patient has trouble keeping liquids down for an extended period. In some instances, though, the agent causing the reaction may pose a more serious threat.

What are the Symptoms of Food Poisoning?

Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea are all common signs of food poisoning. Many organisms — including bacteria, viruses, and parasites (and the toxic substances they may secrete) — can trigger the symptoms of food poisoning. As the name implies, food poisoning is typically linked to food that has spoiled or become contaminated.
In some cases, symptoms may also include fever, headache, muscle or joint aches, or blood in the stool. Rarely, food poisoning may be linked to blurry or double vision, tingling in the arms, or muscle weakness. Apparent food poisoning may also indicate some other, more serious problem. Gastroenteritis, for example, is caused by a virus. Your PhysicianOne Urgent Care provider may want to rule out some of these other potential causes, especially if symptoms persist more than a few days.

How Long Will It Take for Food Poisoning to Go Away?

For most people, symptoms come and go quickly, often within a few hours, or at most a few days. Symptoms that linger longer may indicate a more serious problem. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract attempts to rid itself of its contents to dispel the agent causing problems. After a day of vomiting and/or diarrhea, most people will have eliminated the contents of the GI tract and the situation will resolve on its own. If symptoms persist, it is important to visit your nearest PhysicianOne Urgent Care to have your symptoms evaluated.

How to Treat Food Poisoning

Food poisoning that seems to linger or cause more alarming symptoms, such as fever, may warrant medical intervention. A doctor can order a stool culture to help identify the underlying cause of the symptoms. If necessary, the stool sample can be analyzed to identify a specific agent, such as a bacterium, and to determine which antibiotics are most likely to combat it successfully. A microscopic exam of the stool can reveal any parasites that may be present. A doctor may also order a blood test to look for signs of ongoing inflammation or disease-causing organisms. The patient will also be checked for possible dehydration.

When to Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care for Food Poisoning

If you experience symptoms of food poisoning such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping for more than 48 hours, it is important to be evaluated to rule out dehydration. PhysicianOne Urgent Care is open 7 days/week to evaluate your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment. Contact us at 1.855.349.2828, or stop in today for a convenient walk-in visit. If you’re looking to save time, find a location near you and check in online today!

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