No one wants to experience illness after eating at a favorite restaurant or at a friend’s home. However, unsafe food storage practices can result in food poisoning. 

Know the common symptoms of food poisoning so you can seek medical attention promptly. 

Stomach issues 

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps are the characteristic signs of food poisoning. Many doctors diagnose this condition based on these symptoms alone. 

Often, the illness resolves after a few days with home treatment. You should drink plenty of water and rest as much as possible. When diarrhea or vomiting persist longer than three days, you may need IV fluids to prevent dehydration. 

Additional signs of food poisoning 

Because food poisoning can stem from more than 250 different organisms, other symptoms will vary dramatically from case to case. You may experience: 

  • Blood in the stool 
  • Joint and muscle aches 
  • Headache 
  • Fever 
  • Dehydration 
  • Dizziness 
  • Weakness 
  • Numb or tingling extremities 
  • Double vision 

Call your doctor right away if you experience any of these signs along with stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. 

Food poisoning complications

In severe cases, food poisoning can cause hospitalization, chronic illness and even death. Kidney failure, brain damage, nerve damage and chronic arthritis can result from untreated food poisoning. 

Determining the source 

Sometimes, you can narrow down the contaminated food item by counting backward from the start of your symptoms. For example: 

  • Staphylococcus aureus, caused by handled foods eaten at room temperature, causes illness within 30 minutes to six hours of consumption.  
  • Salmonella, associated with raw meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables, causes illness within six to 24 hours of consumption. 
  • Norovirus, which comes from water, greens, shellfish and fresh fruit, arises 12 to 18 hours after consumption. 
  • E. coli, from water, raw meat or unpasteurized milk, occurs three to four days after consumption. 

In Massachusetts, you may be eligible for legal damages when food poisoning causes serious illness. You must prove that the contaminated item directly led to your symptoms, resulting in medical costs and time out of work.