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Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling - Symptoms

The symptoms of food poisoning usually affect your stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract).

  • The first symptom is usually diarrhea.
  • Other symptoms include feeling sick to your stomach (nausea), vomiting, and abdominal (belly) cramps.

The time it takes for symptoms to appear, how severe the symptoms are, and how long the symptoms last depend on the infecting organism, your age, and your overall health.

Recommended Related to Food Poisoning

Understanding Food Poisoning -- Prevention

Here are some tips to prevent food poisoning: Always wash hands before preparing any food; wash utensils with hot soapy water after using them to prepare any meat or fish. Don't thaw frozen meat at room temperature. Let meat thaw gradually in a refrigerator, or thaw it quickly in a microwave oven and cook immediately. Avoid uncooked marinated food and raw meat, fish, or eggs; cook all such food thoroughly. Check expiration dates on all foods. In restaurants, return any undercooked...

Read the Understanding Food Poisoning -- Prevention article > >

The very young and the very old may be most affected by food poisoning. Their symptoms may last longer, and even the types of food poisoning that are typically mild can be life-threatening. This may also be true for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems, such as those who have long-lasting (chronic) illnesses.

Not all food poisoning causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and belly cramps. Some types of food poisoning have different or more severe symptoms. These can include weakness, numbness, confusion, or tingling of the face, hands, and feet.

Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting, can also be caused by organisms that aren't necessarily spread through food. These organisms are mainly spread through water or personal contact. Conditions caused by these organisms include infection with the parasite Giardia lamblia.

Learn more about specific food poisoning organisms, including how they are spread, their symptoms, and their treatment:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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