Food Poisoning

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Food Poisoning Dangers Slideshow
Salmonella picture

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Salmonella Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning most commonly causes:

  • abdominal cramps,
  • vomiting, and
  • diarrhea.

This can cause significant amounts of fluid loss and with nausea and vomiting; it may be difficult to replace that fluid, leading to dehydration. In developing countries where infectious epidemics cause diarrhea illnesses, thousands of people die because of dehydration.

Quick GuideFood Poisoning: 20 Common and Uncommon Types, Signs and Symptoms

Food Poisoning: 20 Common and Uncommon Types, Signs and Symptoms

Food poisoning facts

  • Food poisoning is a common infectious condition that affects millions of people in the United States each year.
  • Most commonly, people complain of
  • People should seek medical care if they have an associated fever, blood in their stool (rectal bleeding), signs and symptoms of dehydration, or if their symptoms do not resolve after a couple of days.
  • Treatment for food poisoning focuses on keeping the affected person well hydrated.
  • Most cases of food poisoning resolve on their own.
  • Prevention is key and depends upon keeping food preparation areas clean, proper hand washing, and cooking foods thoroughly.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is a food borne disease. Ingestion of food that contains a toxin, chemical or infectious agent (like a bacterium, virus, parasite, or prion) may cause adverse symptoms in the body. Those symptoms may be related only to the gastrointestinal tract causing vomiting or diarrhea or they may involve other organs such as the kidney, brain, or muscle.

Typically most food borne diseases cause vomiting and diarrhea that tend to be short lived and resolve on their own, but dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities may develop. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates approximately 48 million people become ill from food-related diseases each year resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths.

According to the CDC, in 2011, the most common foodborne illnesses in the United States each year are caused by Norovirus, and the bacteria Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, and Salmonella.

This article introduces the major causes of food poisoning and is not meant to be all-inclusive.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2015

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