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How Do I Recognize Food Poisoning Onset?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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The symptoms of food poisoning onset often feel like the flu, and they arrive within a few hours, generally no more than 12 to 18 hours, after eating the contaminated food. They will often cause feelings of headache and fatigue, and just an overall feeling of being unwell. Bloating or indigestion are also some of the first ways to recognize the onset of food poisoning, followed by nausea. The food poisoning will then rapidly progress to the full symptoms, such as vomiting, and, or diarrhea, which may last a number of hours or even days. If dehydration is occurring, which is very common with food poisoning, it may be necessary to visit the emergency room for IV fluids and treatment.

Recognizing the symptoms of food poisoning onset is important to ensure you have sufficient time to get home before you get very sick. A fever is not common with food poisoning, which is one of the easiest ways to differentiate early symptoms from the flu, since they are very similar. The flu will often present with a fever. Tiredness and headache are common, and a full-body feeling of illness that may at first be difficult to identify the source of, is also a regular occurrence.

Generally, abdominal pain will also occur at the beginning of food poisoning. This may cause bloating or heartburn, though pains may also be concentrated and sharp. Over the counter medications designed to treat heartburn will generally not have an effect on this symptom either, which is another clue. It is very common to get nauseous at this point, and the feelings of headache and fatigue will likely continue to worsen as well. Some people still simply not notice these food poisoning onset symptoms, because it can be difficult to identify if you have never had food poisoning before.

Unfortunately, there is often little to be done once you have eaten bad food and are experiencing the symptoms of food poisoning onset. You will likely experience vomiting or diarrhea as the body attempts to expel the bacteria or other toxin from the system as soon as possible. In some cases it will only last for a few hours, while others will experience it for much longer. Dehydration is a risk that can be fatal, so it is important for anyone who can't keep clear liquids down, or who finds that their urine output is slowing, to go to the emergency room for treatment with anti-nausea medication and fluids.

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Discussion Comments
By anon341995 — On Jul 16, 2013

@ankara: A cold sweat and acid reflux can both be signs of food poisoning, but they could also be indications of a food allergy or an issue that is completely unrelated to food. I have noticed that I will break into a cold sweat and feel nauseated about an hour after eating a questionable meal. It won't happen right away, so acid reflux may just be a reaction to eating spicy foods or eating too much or eating too quickly.

If it doesn't get better after taking antacids or a prescription strength acid reducer, then it might be part of the food poisoning process. Your body wants to get rid of those toxins in the bad food as fast as possible, so all "exits" become available, if you get my drift. Follow all of the recommended ways of recovering from food poisoning. You'll feel pretty lousy for a day or two, but most cases clear up once the food is out of the system. Just be more cautious about where you eat in the future. Pay attention to health rating violations, especially those concerning food being held out of temperature or improperly stored. That's where a lot of food poisoning cases start.

By bluedolphin — On Jan 02, 2013

Are sweating and acid reflux signs of food poisoning?

I've been feeling ill for the past hour. I ate at a restaurant that isn't a model of hygiene for lunch. I started feeling bad shortly afterward.

By fBoyle — On Jan 02, 2013

@ysmina-- Oh really? I've only experienced this once but it was very bad and I practically had all of the signs and symptoms of food poisoning.

I remember feeling tired and getting a migraine first. Then, I started experiencing stomach cramps and nausea. Lastly, it was full blown with vomiting and diarrhea. I ended up in the ER and received an IV with antibiotics so that I wouldn't be dehydrated and also to kill the bacteria.

The other day, I was experiencing fatigue and a migraine again and I was so scared that it was the onset of food poisoning. But thankfully, it wasn't.

By ysmina — On Jan 01, 2013

The first food poisoning signs I get are bloating and nausea. I don't really vomit unless the poisoning is really serious and that has happened. But usually I will just be terribly nauseated for hours on end.

Sometimes I induce vomiting because that's the only way my nausea will stop.

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