Food Poisoning: Types, Symptoms, & Treatment

What is food poisoning?

Who doesn’t love to indulge on their favorite food? Or go out and pick the food that they are craving at the moment.

However many are not aware of the dangers of food poisoning or if you already have food poisoning what treatments are there?

Food poisoning usually occurs due to the consumption of soiled food. As spoiled foods contain unsafe and unhealthy bacteria, it tends to have an uncomfortable effect on our system.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) food poisoning amounts to approximately 48 million cases per year in the United States. The most common disease agents found in these cases are Norovirus and Salmonella.

Diarrhea is one of the most common causes of death all over the world. Food poisoning is frequently encountered by travelers to go to developing countries. They tend to contract “Montezuma’s revenge” or traveler’s diarrhea.

Food Poisoning: Types

There are two categories to which food poisoning agents can be group: toxic and infectious agents.

  1. Examples of infectious agents are bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
  2. Examples of toxic agents are poorly prepared exotic food, like barracuda, which has ciguatera toxin, poisonous mushrooms, and pesticides left on the surface of fruits and vegetables.

The only possible way of preventing food poisoning is by maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation.

As food poisoning is too complex an issue. There are over 25 types of the same disease, and there are countless infectious agents that cause the same.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

As food poisoning is too complex an issue. There are over 25 types of the same disease, and there are countless infectious agents that cause the same.  The occurrence of symptoms may be as rapid as in 30 minutes post-ingestion or may take time. Some of the commonly witnessed symptoms of food poisoning are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the internal organs
  • Muscle pain
  • Kidney failure
  • Blurry vision
  • Bodily weakness
  • Speech problems
  • Death

What causes food poisoning?

Food poisoning usually begins after we eat contaminated foods that contain germs, such as bacteria and toxins that can be poisonous for us.

Bacteria are present all around, so you can expect mild food poisoning cases due to them. Mild food poisoning is accompanied by diarrhea and frequent stomach problems.

Food poisoning, though a common disease, can often be potentially detrimental to our health.

The type of the contaminant would determine the severity of the condition; in some cases, chills, dehydration and bloody stools can also be noted.

There are various factors that contribute to the development of food poisoning:


Salmonella is the most common bacteria that cause food poisoning. The bacteria are found in egg yolks of the infected chickens and in raw and uncooked poultry as well.

It can also found in dairy products including

  • meats,
  • fish,
  • shrimps

and some other food groups. If these foods are properly cooked, then the chances of contamination are unlikely. Salmonella can also be found in pet reptiles and their feces and the carriers are snakes, turtles and lizards.

Salmonella causes the traditional symptoms of food poisoning, such as diarrhea,

  • abdominal pain,
  • nausea, vomiting
  • high temperature or fever
  • dehydration

Staphylococcus Aureus

This bacterium is primarily found in our environment and in humans as well. It is present in the air, dust and sewage. The bacteria tend to spread due to the food handlers and their poor sanitary habits.

Almost all the foods that can get contaminated, but milk products, salad dressing, cream pastries.We should all the foods stored at normal temperatures are more prone to these bacteria.

The symptoms of food poisoning caused by Staphylococcus aureus. The normal food borne bacteria are very much alike and that also creates some confusion.

However, the affect of the disease is mild and you might not even need to see a doctor.

Escherichia coli or E.coli

E.coIi has many strains, but all of these strains aren’t harmful. The strain which causes the most severe form of food poisoning is known as E.coli O157:H7.

E.coli causes food poisoning in almost 3 people out of every 10,000. Food borne E.coli can found in raw milk, or meat and often in vegetables and fruits as well.

Campylobacter Jejuni

The FDA reveals that this is one bacteria which is primarily responsible for causing bacterial diarrhea.

The bacteria can affect anyone and everyone in general. The germ is found mostly

  • cattle,
  • birds,
  • flies
  • and chickens.

The bacteria can also found in stream water and ponds.


Diarrhea caused to travelers is mostly because of the bacteria caused by shigella. It is caused due to contaminated water and food, crowded conditions of living and improper sanitation.

Apart from this, there can be many other causes of food poisoning and proper lifestyle and hygienic practices can prevent the disease.

How is food poisoning treated?

In the majority of the cases, the infections are likely to last for 24 – 48 hours and during this time. A person is likely to have diarrhea and vomiting tendency, which leads to frequent fluid lost.

Preventing dehydration becomes a must and you must drink ample amount of water to allow your system to revive.

Antibiotic treatments often become necessary, if the condition is critical. Some tests would be performed to determine the cause and eventually the treatment procedure would be carried out.

How can food poisoning  prevented?

Food poisoning is usually caused due to contaminated food items. When we eat such foods, we end up with food poison, which can be a critical complication in some rare cases. Foods get contaminated due to improper handling, storing or preparation. Some foods are more likely to cause food poisoning than the rest and are even more vulnerable to the disorder than others.

Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria as well and is probably the most common cause of the complication. When an ample amount of bacteria or toxins are prominent in the foods, it causes food poisoning. These typical bacteria are known as pathogens.

You cannot just limit food contamination to fish or poultry, even prepared fruits, salads, and fresh vegetables can be highly contaminating. Contaminated foods might look, taste and even smell normal, but it needs to be identified earlier on.

The bacteria that cause food poisoning can grow as well as develop and further multiply on certain food groups quite easily than the rest, such as:

  • Poultry – turkey and chicken
  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Salami
  •  Ham
  • Cooked rice
  • Prepared salads, like pasta salads, coleslaw, and rice salads
  • Cooked pasta
  •  Prepared fruit salads

Also, there are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable to food poisoning, such as

  • the elderly,
  • pregnant women,
  • children and
  • people having some type of illness.

These people must be very conscious while purchasing, storing and even preparing foods.

Preventing food poisoning is easy in most of the cases

  • Prevent your food from contamination
  • Prevent the growth and reproduction of the bacteria in your food

When purchasing foods:

  •  Always have separate storage space for hot foods and chilled foods.
  • Check the labels before buying the food; don’t buy products that have past the date of use.
  •  Do not buy foods indented, swollen, leaking or maybe damaged containers. Check the packing always.

Be quick with your shopping and store it in proper places.

While preparing the food:

  • Wash your hand with lukewarm water and soap.
  •  Cook the food thoroughly and at 75°C temperature.
  •  Poultry must be cooked till the meat turns white.

While storing the food:

  • Do not keep raw food and cooked together.
  • The temperature of the refrigerator should be below 5°C.
  • Cover all the foods stored in the fridge.

How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

It’s all depends on the type of food poisoning you have.

The most common type of food poisoning  is staph food poisoning. It’s only lasts for 1-3 days at the most.

You can see improvement from food poisoning an additional 5-6 days, it is best to follow a light diet after food poisoning symptoms are over.

You should call the doctor if food poisoning has more than 2 weeks. Also if you have been vomiting for more than 1 day, you have severe diarrhea, you are pregnant or you have intense stomach cramps you should see your doctor.

If you see food poisoning symptoms develop into severe dehydration, dry mouth, increasing heartbeat, dizziness and little or no urination’s then it is important you immediately go to the hospital.

Remember harmless food poisoning will only last a couple of days, if food poisoning is lasting for more than 1-2 weeks then you should see your doctor to get diagnosed and treated.