What are the symptoms of botulism?


Quick Answer

Symptoms of food-bourne botulism include difficulty swallowing, speaking and breathing; a dry mouth; facial weakness; blurred vision; double vision; drooping eyelids; nausea; vomiting; abdominal cramps; and paralysis, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms can begin from a few hours to several days after ingesting the toxin, depending on how much is eaten. However, symptoms usually begin within 18 to 36 hours.

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Full Answer

The Mayo Clinic explains that symptoms of wound botulism, caused by toxins produced by a bacterial infection in a wound, include difficulty swallowing or speaking, facial weakness, blurred vision, double vision, drooping eyelids and paralysis. Symptoms of infant botulism, caused by eating spores of the botulinum bacterium, usually in tainted honey, are constipation, muscle weakness that may manifest as a floppy body or trouble controlling the head, a weak cry, irritability, drooling, drooping eyelids, tiredness, difficulty nursing or feeding, and paralysis. Symptoms of infant botulism can begin as long as 30 days after ingesting the spores, but usually begin with 18 to 36 hours after ingestion.

Botulism is caused by the toxins produced by a group of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum which are naturally found in dirt, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They thrive in low-oxygen environments and can remain dormant until they are transported to a favorable environment by forming spores, which can contaminate food such as honey, or be trapped in food during home canning.

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