Food poisoning is a food borne illness resulting from ingestion of food contaminated with toxins, chemicals, or any infectious agent such as bacteria, parasites, and virus. Food poisoning can lead to upset stomach and even worse, fever, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and dehydration. In the United States, there is an estimated 76 million people who suffer from food poisoning each year resulting to 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths.
Luckily, not all types of food poisoning are to be a cause of alarm. Some of them are not as serious or deadly as the others. And a good way to know whether or not you should be getting worried is the amount of time that has passed. So, how long does food poisoning last?
Most food poisoning cases only last for a few hours to a day or two. And their symptoms, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and nausea, usually resolve on their own. This type of food poisoning is staph food poisoning, caused by the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus. In some severe cases of staph food poisoning, the symptoms may include dehydration, muscle cramping, headache, and changes in blood pressure and heart rate. Symptoms may also last longer than 2 days if the case is serious.
Other food poisoning cases may last from 1 to 2 weeks, with symptoms similar to staph food poisoning. Most types of food poisoning have the same or similar symptoms. The difference mainly lies on the severity and the duration of the infection.
If the symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, you should visit your doctor and get yourself checked. Also, if vomiting lasts for more than a day or if you have intractable vomiting, you should consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Other conditions that you should be very much concerned about are when you are pregnant, you have severe diarrhea, and/or you have intense abdominal cramps. When you have these symptoms and conditions, you should consult with your doctor immediately. Blood in stools should also be a cause of alarm. And if food poisoning leads to severe dehydration, increasing heart rate, dizziness, dry mouth, and little to no urination, you must immediately go to the hospital.
Recovery period for food poisoning lasts for 5 to 6 days. When you are recovering from a case of food poisoning, it is best to follow a light diet that is easy for your stomach to digest. You should also be careful in preparing your food and keep everything clean.
Remember, for food poisoning to be considered harmless, it must only last for a couple of days maximum. If it lasts for more than a week or two, you should immediately ask your doctor about it, especially if the symptoms are severe or if you have other medical conditions that may lead to complications.