Food poisoning is a disease that is carried or transmitted to humans by contaminated foods or beverages.
Food poisoning is caused by substances in foods or beverages, including:
Infants and the elderly are at increased risk for food poisoning. Other factors that increase your chances of getting food poisoning include:
After you consume the contaminated food or beverage, there is a delay before symptoms arise. This delay is called an incubation period. It can last hours or weeks. Symptoms include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you have some of the food that you think made you sick, you may be asked to bring it in to be tested.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Most types of food poisoning improve in 12-48 hours. There aren't many treatments available to speed your recovery from food poisoning.
Drink plenty of fluids. If you are severely ill, IV fluids may be needed.
Some types of bacterial food poisoning can be treated with antibiotics.
This includes the following:
If you have botulism poisoning, there is an antitoxin you can take.
To help prevent food poisoning:
American Gastroenterological Association
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education
Food poisoning. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/food-poisoning.html. Updated August 2017. Accessed November 8, 2017.
Food poisoning. FoodSafety.gov website. Available at: http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/index.html. Accessed November 8, 2017.
Food poisoning. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/sick/food_poisoning.html. Updated September 2015. Accessed November 8, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN Last Updated: 12/20/2014