If you’ve never had food poisoning, consider yourself lucky! More than 48 million Americans suffer from some type of food poisoning each year. Despite how common it is, there’s a major lack of education around what exactly food poisoning is.
What is Food Poison?
Food poisoning occurs when someone ingests a foodborne illness. There are more than 250 million different types of foodborne illnesses! They include bacteria, viruses, toxins, and parasitic pathogens.
How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?
The exact length of food poisoning depends on what type of foodborne illness you ingested and your general health. It can last as short as a few hours and as long as a few days.
What are the Causes of Food Poisoning
As we know, food poisoning is caused by foodborne illnesses, but how do those illnesses make their way into our food? Some of the most common causes include:
- Improper food storage
- Undercooked meat
- Contaminated water
- Food that’s been touched by a sick person
- Cross-contamination with raw food
- Unwashed produce
- Unpasteurized dairy products
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
No two cases of food poisoning will present exactly the same. You may experience only a few mild symptoms or more severe symptoms. Possible symptoms of food poisoning include:
- Stomach pain and cramps
Symptom onset can occur as soon as 30 minutes after eating contaminated food or as long as a few hours after eating.
Food poisoning is never something you want to deal with if you don’t have to. Use these preventative methods to reduce your risk of contracting a foodborne illness!
- Frequent hand washing
- Put leftovers in the food within 2 hours of eating
- Prepare food on clean kitchen surfaces with clean utensils
- Keep raw and cooked foods separate
- Thaw food slowly in the fridge, not on the counter at room temperature
- Don’t eat expired food
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure food is cooked to a safe temperature
Treating food poisoning can usually be done at home. Focus on replenishing lost fluids by sipping water and sports drinks. Dehydration is the most common problem related to food poisoning. Rest, take over-the-counter pain medication as needed, and start eating again slowly with bland foods when you feel ready.
Go to the doctor right away if you begin to experience a fever above 102, severe dehydration, or symptoms that last more than 3 days. An inability to keep liquids down is another red flag. An urgent care or walk-in clinic is the best place to go for same-day treatment without an appointment.