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How Long Food Poisoning Lasts and How to Prevent It

how long does food poisoning last

According to the Centers for Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 6 Americans faces food poisoning every year. Food poisoning symptoms can start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they can begin days or even weeks later.

Sickness caused by foodborne illness mostly resolves within a few hours or can last for several days. To prevent it, avoid food for the first few hours as your stomach settles down. This article provides essential information on preventing and treating food poisoning and increasing recovery time.

What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning (or foodborne illness) is a widespread but preventable medical condition caused by eating spoiled food contaminated with harmful pathogens like bacteria, parasites, or viruses. This condition can also be caused by consuming food contaminated with metals or chemicals.

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Foodborne illnesses are usually gastrointestinal, i.e., they trigger symptoms in your digestive tract. However, it can also affect other organs. Depending on the type of food poisoning, your symptoms may vary in severity and length of time. Some symptoms include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Weakness

Also read: Contagious Upper Respiratory Tract Infections: Causes and Symptoms

How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

Depending on what substance contaminated the food, how much of it you ingested, and the severity of your symptoms, your foodborne illness may last for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks. However, the condition generally subsides within a couple of days without needing any urgent medical care.

How to Prevent Food Poisoning

Below are a few ways to prevent it:

  • Always clean your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before cooking.
  • Always smell your food properly. If they smell unusual, discard them immediately.
  • Never eat food that’s past its expiry date.
  • Always cook your food thoroughly and at the proper temperature, which kills all the harmful germs.
  • Thoroughly wash all vegetables and fruits before you cook or eat them.
  • Separate your raw meat, poultry, and seafood from ready-to-eat foods.

Also read: What to Do If You Have a Sore Throat and Ear Pain

Home Remedies to Relieve Minor Food Poisoning

Typically, you can address your foodborne illness at home with various natural or home remedies. Some such home remedies include:

  • Eat simple foods that are gentle on your stomach till your symptoms subside.
  • Drink lemon water which contains anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.
  • Basil leaves are an effective option to soothe abdominal discomfort triggered by foodborne illness.
  • Garlic is also very effective against foodborne illness due to its strong antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Contact your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms:

  • Diarrhea lasting longer than two days
  • Blood, black, or pus-filled stool
  • Bloody vomit
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle weakness

Foodborne illness, although not serious, should be taken care of with immediate precautions. At MI Express Urgent Care, we provide consultation and treatment for food poisoning. If you or a loved one need to alleviate any symptoms or if you need tips to prevent, call us at 734-388-4999.

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