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Should I Go To the Hospital if I Have Food Poisoning?

Posted in Food Safety on June 30, 2022

Food poisoning is always uncomfortable, but there are times when symptoms may be bad enough to warrant a visit to the doctor or hospital. If you don’t seek the treatment you need, there is a risk of facing long-term complications.

Signs It’s Time to Go to the Hospital

Food poisoning symptoms can worsen and change over time taking anywhere from 30 minutes to over 36 hours to begin after eating contaminated food. A trip to the ER may be in order if your symptoms seem severe. Here are the signs to look out for:

  • A fever higher than 100°
  • Blood in your bowel movements
  • Feeling severe dehydration symptoms (e.g., dry mouth, excessive thirst, dizziness, headache, clamminess, dry skin, etc.)
  • Frequent vomiting prevents you from keeping any liquids down
  • Intense or extreme stomach pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Green or yellow vomit
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Diarrhea that lasts longer than three days

Food poisoning can become dangerous if it leads to severe dehydration or other complications. In these cases, doctors can help you by providing dehydration treatment, antibiotics if necessary, watching for organ complications, and testing your blood and stool to diagnose the infection. If you experience less severe symptoms that persist for more than three days, it is best to see your doctor to rule out any further health concerns.

Typical Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning typically begins with stomach discomfort, such as nausea or cramps. Soon after, you may be running to the bathroom with little warning due to diarrhea and/or vomiting. You can continue to experience these symptoms along with pain in your abdomen, fever, and headache for anywhere between a few hours to several days. However, it is uncommon for vomiting and fever to continue past 24 hours. If these symptoms persist, consider going to the emergency room.

What Causes Food Poisoning?

Harmful microbes—viruses, bacteria, or parasites—found in food are the most common causes of food poisoning. Harmful chemicals are also responsible in some cases. Microbes can spread to food at any time. For example, while it is being grown, harvested, or slaughtered, processed, stored, shipped, or prepared. Types of foods that are known for containing microbes include:

  • Fresh produce
  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and eggs
  • Unpasteurized dairy products and fruit juices
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Foods that people handle, such as “deli foods,” like sliced meat, salads and cut fruit, sandwiches, and baked goods
  • Processed and ready-to-eat meats such as hot dogs or deli meat
  • Foods that are improperly canned or sealed
  • Improperly stored food

When cooking, microbes can easily spread to your hands, cutting boards, kitchen utensils, etc. Raw foods such as chicken, beef, or eggs must remain separate from other foods to avoid cross-contamination. Food poisoning can also occur when food sits out longer than two hours or is not stored properly in the refrigerator or freezer. Additionally, people can spread microbes if they don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, changing a diaper, or before cooking. If you or a loved one suffered from serious complications from ingesting contaminated food, contact a food safety attorney today to explore your legal options for compensation.