Food Poisoning

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

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.

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

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

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Food Poisoning - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your food poisoning?
Food Poisoning - Treatment Question: What was your treatment, including medication, for food poisoning?
Food Poisoning - Causes Question: Do you know what caused your food poisoning?
Food Poisoning - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with food poisoning.
Food Poisoning - Home Remedies Question: Please provide home remedies you've used to treat symptoms related to food poisoning.
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.