Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhea are not only a catchy jingle for Pepto-Bismol but also symptoms of food-borne illnesses. Food-borne illness, or food poisoning, happens when you have consumed food or beverage infected by bacteria, viruses or parasites. The two most common bacterial infections in food are Salmonella and E. coli.
- Salmonella: Most commonly caused by poor handling of beef, poultry, eggs and milk. The food usually becomes contaminated by a handler who has not washed his or her hands. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and intense abdominal cramps. When infected with salmonella, your body can become severely dehydrated.
- E. Coli: Most common in meat, raw milk, dairy, and raw produce such as alfalfa sprouts and lettuce. The bacteria usually are present, but the food is not cooked thoroughly enough to kill it. Typical symptoms include diarrhea and urinary tract infections (UTIs). However, more serious complications such as kidney failure and anemia can occur.
The symptoms of food poisoning can show up within hours of ingesting the food and vary in severity depending on the amount of food or drink consumed.
Symptoms of food poisoning:
- Abdominal cramping and/or pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Body aches
Most food poisoning cases resolve on their own within several days. If you believe you have a food-borne illness, we recommend avoiding solid foods and dairy products. As your appetite returns, start taking bland foods such as crackers and toast, and drink plenty of healthy fluids such as water and sports drinks. Avoid beverages that include caffeine and dairy.
When to seek medical care
Visit a Midwest Express Clinic urgent care if you:
- Are vomiting blood
- Have blood in your stool
- Have severe stomach pain
- Have diarrhea that lasts longer than three days
- Have vomiting that persists more than two days
- Have a fever of 101 degrees or higher that persists several days despite using over-the-counter medications