How long does food poisoning last?

Updated April 17, 2017

Food poisoning occurs when you eat contaminated food. Food poisoning most often is a result of eating improperly cooked meats and spoiled dairy products. Food poisoning can resemble the flu, so next time you're feeling sick, run a quick mental inventory of everything you've eaten the past few days to narrow down the cause of your illness.


Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a common food poisoning culprit. Other bad bacteria that can cause food poisoning are salmonella, listeria, staphylococcus aureus and Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni). The most dangerous is Clostridium botulinum, which is able to live in an oxygen-free environment and is often found in improperly canned foods.


Nausea and vomiting, fevers and chills, diarrhoea, weakness and fatigue, headaches and abdominal cramps are all symptoms of food poisoning.

Home Treatment

Stick to a liquid diet until the diarrhoea lets up. Drink lots of fluids, such as water and drinks containing electrolytes. Avoid dairy products and soda. After the diarrhoea passes, slowly reintroduce your body to solid foods. Start with crackers and toast and work your way up.


Most food poisoning symptoms pass within 12 to 28 hours. Some varieties last for up to 10 days.


Children and the elderly are especially at risk for food poisoning. They also have a higher risk of developing complications as a result of the illness.

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About the Author

Meg Mulvaney has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work has been published in several newspapers, magazines, online and most recently in an inspirational book as a contributor. She graduated from a publishing course through the Institute of Children's Literature in 2007.