How Long Do the Effects of Food Poisoning Last?

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Food poisoning isn't pleasant and can even be deadly. Learning how long symptoms can last and what to do if they get worse or don't go away is vital.

There are several types of food poisoning. Find out which type is causing the symptoms to determine a course of action to get healthy again.

Staphylococcus Aureus
Staphylococcus aureus occurs when food isn't properly refrigerated, such as potato salad left at room temperature for a few hours or any dairy product. The food usually has no signs of spoiling, so the best option is to toss anything that's been sitting out too long.

Symptoms include typical gastrointestinal complaints-nausea, cramping, vomiting and diarrhea, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The severity depends on how toxic the food was and how much was consumed. Symptoms come quick and last two to three days on average. Treatment should include plenty of rest and liquids to prevent dehydration.

This type of food poisoning often comes from eating pork, beef, poultry or even eggs and milk contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria. It's also possible to get sick from vegetables or fruits and water that have touched the feces of infected animals. Some of the most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps, states the CDC. They should go away after two to three days without medical treatment.

Shigellosis occurs after contact with water, food or direct contact with a person infected with the shigella germ. Symptoms begin one to three days after contact and include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may contain blood, vomiting and nausea. This illness is most common in daycare facilities and schools and is often spread among young children. People suffering from shigellosis should feel better in two to seven days, reports the United States Department of Health & Human Services.

Another possibility is listeria. A serious condition, this bacterial infection comes from eating contaminated food and requires antibiotic treatment. Symptoms are gastrointestinal such as diarrhea a fever. Unlike other foodborne illnesses, Listeria symptoms can take one to four weeks to start and may spread outside of the gut, possibly infecting the fetus of pregnant women and lead to potentially deadly complications. Other symptoms in women who are expecting include fatigue and muscle aches. Others can experience headaches, confusion, lack of balance and a stiff neck as well as muscle aches and fever.

Ciguatera is food poisoning from eating certain reef fish and the fish that eat them. Common carriers are sea bass, red snapper, eel, grouper, barracuda and Spanish mackerel. Harmless to sea creatures, it's quite toxic to humans. Ciguatera is also heat-resistant, so cooking doesn't kill the toxin. Symptoms start as soon as six to eight hours after consuming the contaminated seafood and include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping, dizziness and muscle pain. Symptoms may not go away on their own and may worsen in some populations. Consult a doctor for treatment if ciguatera is suspected, suggests MedicineNet.

Cholera is caused by water or food sources that were contaminated by animal or human fecal matter. The bacteria can also live in rivers and coastal waters, infecting shellfish. The symptoms of this type of bacterial infection can be mild and should begin between two and three days after contact with the bacteria. But, more severe symptoms include explosive diarrhea, vomiting and cramps. Hydration and antibiotics can reduce the severity of most symptoms, according to the World Health Organization