Filed under Bacterial infections, Digestive disorders, Illness & injury

If something has made you really sick, your first thought is probably that it was something you ate.

How can you track down the cause of food poisoning?

resturant menu food poisoning

by Andy Warycka

I won’t have what she’s having

Just spent the last six hours sleeping while draped over the toilet? My condolences. We’ve all been there, and it’s certainly neither pleasant nor fun.

So now that you’ve finished dialing Ralph on the porcelain phone, you’re shaky, tired, annoyed… and trying to figure out what the heck just happened.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Though I spent a few years as an EMT scraping drunks off pavement and helping old ladies back into bed, I am not a physician, nor do I claim to be. This is intended to be a guide to help you be more informed when you consult with your doctor. The Myria legal team thanks you.

Food poisoning causes: What are your symptoms?

First, let’s cover some basics. Did you, in fact, have the characteristic symptoms of food poisoning? They can, of course, vary depending on what nasty little bug caused the problem in the first place, but according to the Mayo Clinic most manifest themselves with…

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Additonally, if your vomiting continues for more than two days, you begin vomiting blood, you can’t keep liquids down after 24 hours, have severe diarrhea for more than three days, run a fever of 101.5 F or higher, or are severely dehydrated, seek medical attention immediately. Right now. Stop reading this and go.

What made you sick?

Okay, so you spun the wheel of symptoms and came up a winner. Loser. Whatever. You had food poisoning. What caused it?

Well, depending on what the agent was that caused it, it could have been anything you ate in the last eight hours to two weeks.

Take a look at the chart below, adapted from information from the FDA, which details some of the most common contaminants, and the time it generally takes before the onset of symptoms. It also lists the types of foods most commonly associated with the transmission of that bacteria. This information can often get you in the ballpark so you can figure out whether it was the raw oysters three days ago, or that hotdog you had for lunch.

Finally, if you do suspect food poisoning, contact your local health department. By giving them your symptoms, what you ate, where you got the food, and when you became ill, you could help identify a potential outbreak — all so others don’t have to suffer through what you did. There’s your good deed for the day.

Food poisoning symptoms & causes
Illness/bacterium Onset Symptoms Duration Sources
B cereus food poisoning (Bacillus cereus) 10-16 hrs Abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea, nausea 24-48 hours Meats, stews, gravies, vanilla sauce
Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter jejuni) 2-5 days Diarrhea, cramps, fever, and vomiting; diarrhea may be bloody 2-10 days Raw and undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk,contaminated water
Botulism (Clostridium
botulinum
)
12-72 hours Vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, double vision, difficulty in swallowing, muscle weakness. Can result in respiratory failure and death Variable Improperly canned foods, especially home-canned vegetables, fermented fish, baked potatoes in aluminum foil
Clostridium
perfringens 
food poisoning
8–16 hours Intense abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea Usually 24 hours Meats, poultry, gravy, dried or precooked foods, time and/or temperature-abused foods
Intestinalcryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium) 2-10 days Diarrhea (usually watery), stomach cramps, upset stomach, slight fever May be remitting and relapsing over weeks to months Uncooked food or food contaminated by an ill food handler after cooking, contaminated drinking water
Cyclosporiasis (Cyclospora
cayetanensis)
1-14 days, usually at least 1 week Diarrhea (usually watery), loss of appetite, substantial loss of weight, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue May be remitting and relapsing over weeks to months Various types of fresh produce (imported berries, lettuce, basil)
E coli infection (Escherichia coli) 1-3 days Watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, some vomiting 3-7 or more days Water or food contaminated with human feces
Hemorrhagic colitis or E coli O157:h20 infection 1-8 days Severe (often bloody) diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting. Usually, little or no fever is present. More common in children 4 years or younger. Can lead to kidney failure. 5-10 days Undercooked beef (especially hamburger), unpasteurized milk and juice, raw fruits and vegetables (e.g. sprouts), and contaminated water
Hepatitis 28 days average (15-50 days) Diarrhea, dark urine, jaundice, and flu-like symptoms, i.e., fever, headache, nausea, and abdominal pain Variable, 2 weeks-3 months Raw produce, contaminated drinking water, uncooked foods and cooked foods that are not reheated after contact with an infected food handler; shellfish from contaminated waters
Listeriosis (Listeria
monocytogenes)
9-48 hrs for gastro-intestinal symptoms, 2-6 weeks for invasive disease Fever, muscle aches, and nausea or diarrhea. Pregnant women may have mild flu-like illness, and infection can lead to premature delivery or stillbirth. The elderly or immunocompromised patients may develop bacteremia or meningitis. Variable Unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, ready-to-eat deli meats
May be called viral gastroenteritis, winter diarrhea, acute non-bacterial gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and food infection (Noroviruses) 12-48 hrs Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fever, headache. Diarrhea is more prevalent in adults, vomiting more common in children. 12-60 hrs Raw produce, contaminated drinking water, uncooked foods and cooked foods that are not reheated after contact with an infected food handler; shellfish from contaminated waters
Salmonellosis (Salmonella) 6-48 hours Diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting 4-7 days Eggs, poultry, meat, unpateurized milk or juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables
Shigellosis or Bacillary dysentery (Shigella) 4-7 days Abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea. Stools may contain blood and mucus. 24-48 hrs Raw produce, contaminated drinking water, uncooked foods and cooked foods that are not reheated after contact with an infected food handler
Staphylococcal food poisoning (Staphylococcus aureus) 1-6 hours Sudden onset of severe nausea and vomiting. Abdominal cramps. Diarrhea and fever may be present. 24-48 hours Unrefrigerated or improperly refrigerated meats, potato and egg salads, cream pastries
V parahaemolyticus infection (Vibrio
parahaemolyticus)
4-96 hours Watery (occasionally bloody) diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever 2-5 days Undercooked or raw seafood, such as shellfish
V vulnificus infection (Vibrio vulnificus) 1-7 days Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloodborne infection. Fever, bleeding within the skin, ulcers requiring surgical removal. Can be fatal to persons with liver disease or weakened immune systems. 2-8 days Undercooked or raw seafood, such as shellfish (especially oysters)

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Photo credit(s): Restaurant menu - food poisoning photo thanks to eyeliam

Added by the Myria Editors on December 16, 2014

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