What is food poisoning?

Food Poisoning Symptoms, Causes and Treatment 

Food poisoning happens when you ingest food or drinks contaminated with either bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Most cases of food poisoning are mild and subside over a few days up to a week. Resting at home is often enough to recover from food poisoning.

Medical attention is required if your food poisoning case is severe or persistent. You also need to be checked immediately if you belong to a particularly risky group such as the following:

  • Children below 5 years old
  • Elderly people over 60 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • Suffers from a chronic illness or a weakened immune system

Food poisoning symptoms

Diarrhoea and vomiting are the two most common symptoms of food poisoning. Other symptoms may appear as well, including:



Such symptoms usually occur a few hours or even days after ingesting contaminated food and drinks. These symptoms may show up depending on the substance that caused the infection.


Severe and rare cases of food poisoning may present with the following symptoms:


  • Persistent diarrhoea lasting for 3 days or more
  • Severe symptoms of dehydration, including excessive thirst, dry mouth, severe weakness, little urination, dizziness, and lightheadedness
  • High-grade fever of 38.5 degrees Celsius and up
  • Blood in the urine
  • Vomiting up blood
  • Muscular weakness and tingling in the arms
  • Difficulty in seeing or speaking


See a doctor immediately if you get these severe symptoms.

Food poisoning diagnosis

Your doctor will start diagnosing you by asking about the following:


  • What specific symptoms you’re experiencing
  • How long you’ve been suffering from your symptoms
  • What possible cause you think might have led to these symptoms
  • What foods and drinks have you consumed lately
  • If you have recently returned from a trip abroad


If you have severe symptoms or your diagnosis is quite unclear, tests may be done to confirm food poisoning and rule out any similar conditions. Your doctor will refer you for stool analysis and/or blood tests to check for the presence of a bacterial infection.


Food poisoning causes

Contaminated food and drinks are the common causes of food poisoning. The following list enumerated the possible bacteria and viruses that may have entered the foods and drinks you’ve ingested:


  • Bacteria– Salmonella, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Shigella
  • Viruses– Rotavirus, Norovirus


At times, parasites in contaminated food and drink may also cause food poisoning.


Food poisoning treatment

Most cases of food poisoning are mild and can be treated easily at home. But it’s a good idea to see a doctor for advice if your case is severe or persistent. Also, if you belong to the following risk groups, see a doctor right away:


  • Very young and very old people
  • Pregnant women
  • Suffers from an underlying medical problem
  • Have a weakened immune system


Now, the most common treatment and advice for food poisoning include the following:


  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections only
  • Oral rehydration solutions to prevent dehydration
  • Anti-emetics to control and eliminate vomiting


Increasing water intake is also highly advised in order to stop dehydration from developing. It’s also fine to take frequent sips if you can’t drink swigs of water due to weakness.


Food poisoning in pregnancy

Food poisoning cases during pregnancy are typically nothing to worry about for you and your baby’s health. However, one bacterial strain that causes the condition can be harmful to your baby. This is the Listeria strain which may cause the following complications:


  • Stillbirth
  • Premature birth
  • Fatal neonatal infection
  • Miscarriage (in early pregnancy)


Contact your physician right away if you are pregnant and suspect you have food poisoning. Flu-like symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and muscle aches should alert you to the possibility of a bacterial infection. It is crucial to check which bacteria had caused your food poisoning case.


You can readily ask the help of our Mobidoctor physicians to diagnose you and give you safe treatments to eliminate your food poisoning during pregnancy. More than that, our caring GPs are always at hand to answer your questions, give you medical advice, and provide support as you recuperate from the illness.