First aid: Food-borne illness
All foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria. But poor handling of food, improper cooking or inadequate storage can result in bacteria multiplying in large enough numbers to cause illness. Parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals also can contaminate food and cause illness.
Signs and symptoms of food poisoning vary with the source of contamination, and whether you're dehydrated or have low blood pressure. Generally they include:
With significant dehydration, you might feel:
Whether you become ill after eating contaminated food depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, your age and your health. High-risk groups include:
If you develop food poisoning:
Foodborne illness often improves on its own within 48 hours. Call your doctor if you feel ill for longer than two or three days or if blood appears in your stools.
Call 911 or call for emergency medical assistance if:
Last Updated: 2012-02-11
© 1998-2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
Terms and conditions of use