Is it a Foodborne Illness or Something Else?

How can you tell?

Often the "stomach flu" is related to something you ate. Foodborne illnesses may be mild or land you in a hospital or cause death. How can you tell?

Symptoms of various food-borne illnesses may appear at different times—some within 30 minutes, others may emerge hours or even days after exposure. You may have one, two, or all of these symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea or abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Fever or chills
  • Body ache
  • Double vision or difficulty speaking or swallowing (These are serious symptoms, call your health care professional immediately.)
  • Other symptoms may include: tingling in mouth, weakness

If two or more people in a family or group that ate the same food get sick, consider the possibility of a foodborne illness. If everyone ate the same food and has similar symptoms, then foodborne illness is more likely.

Infants, preschool children, adults 65 years and over, pregnant or nursing women, and immuno-compromised children and adults are considered at high-risk. These people may get sick sooner, have more serious symptoms, or need medical care. They should get advice from health care provider as soon as possible.

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