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Food poisoning - Symptoms of food poisoning

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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The symptoms of food poisoning usually develop

1-3 days

after eating contaminated food.

However, depending on the type of food poisoning, symptoms can develop between one hour and several weeks after eating contaminated food.

The most common symptoms are:

Other symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • stomach cramps
  • abdominal pain 
  • loss of appetite
  • a high temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above
  • muscle pain
  • chills

Where food has been contaminated by bacteria or chemicals, vomiting is the main symptom. In these cases, vomiting can occur 15 minutes to six hours after eating the food.

Most people make a full recovery 12-48 hours after having food poisoning.

When to seek medical advice

Most cases of food poisoning do not require medical treatment. However, you should seek medical advice if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • vomiting that lasts more than two days
  • you are unable to keep liquids down for more than a day
  • diarrhoea that lasts for more than three days
  • blood in your vomit
  • blood in your stools
  • seizures (fits)
  • changes in your mental state, such as confusion
  • double vision 
  • slurred speech
  • signs of severe dehydration, such as a dry mouth, sunken eyes and an inability to pass urine, or passing small amounts of dark, strong-smelling urine


Always contact your GP if you get food poisoning during pregnancy. Extra precautions may be needed. 

Medical Review: March 27, 2013
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