Common food poisoning questions

3 min read

Food poisoning symptoms often start within a few days of eating contaminated food. But symptoms can start after a few hours or as long as a few weeks after eating infected food.


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What are food poisoning symptoms?

Food poisoning symptoms include:

How fast does food poisoning hit?

Food poisoning symptoms often start within a few days of eating contaminated food. But symptoms can start after a few hours or as long as a few weeks after eating infected food.

What if I get food poisoning while pregnant?

Most cases of food poisoning are not serious and get better within a week. However, pregnant women can be at increased risk of food poisoning complications, such as dehydration.

If you are pregnant and think you have food poisoning, see your doctor or go to hospital immediately.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning versus gastroenteritis?

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating or drinking something contaminated with viruses, bacteria, toxins, parasites, and/or chemicals.

Gastroenteritis is a viral or bacterial infection of the gut.

Gastroenteritis and food poisoning can both cause diarrhoea and vomiting, so it can be difficult to tell if you have gastroenteritis or food poisoning.

However, food poisoning is often more severe than gastroenteritis. Some types of food poisoning can also cause symptoms, such as bloody diarrhoea and fever, which are not usually seen in people with gastroenteritis.

Is food poisoning contagious?

Yes. If you have diarrhoea and vomiting from food poisoning you can spread the infection to others. You can reduce the risk of this by staying off work and school, and avoiding contact with other people for two days after your symptoms have cleared.

How long does food poisoning last?

Food poisoning symptoms usually pass within a week.

What causes E. coli food poisoning?

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type of bacteria that causes food poisoning. It is most commonly caught from:

  • eating infected food, such as raw leafy vegetables or undercooked meat, or raw milk products
  • touching infected animals or accidentally coming into contact with their poo, like at petting farms and campsites
  • contact with infected people, particularly if you don't wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet or before handling food
  • drinking water from poorly-treated water supplies
  • swimming or playing in infected water, such as ponds or streams

What are good natural remedies for food poisoning?

Food poisoning usually gets better on its own within a week.

Natural remedies to help manage the symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • resting at home
  • drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, even if you can only manage sips
    avoiding sugary, fizzy, alcoholic or caffeinated drinks
  • eating when you are able to - try small, light meals at first and stick to bland foods

Is there a problem with having food poisoning and breastfeeding?

It is safe to carry on breastfeeding if you have vomiting and diarrhoea from food poisoning. The infection causing your symptoms usually cannot be passed to your baby through your breast milk.
However, you should try to drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.

If your symptoms do not get better after a few days, see your doctor.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.