Should You Call Your Doctor

Suppose you suspect foodborne illness. You or a family member has an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, abdominal discomfort, or a fever. Symptoms of foodborne illness can appear from thirty minutes to three weeks after eating contaminated food. Most often, though, symptoms appear within four to forty-eight hours after eating. Symptoms usually pass within twenty-four to forty-eight hours; rest and plenty of fluids are the best ways to treat most cases. Some foodborne illnesses can affect your health for weeks, months, even years. Talk to your healthcare provider if you think that food has made you sick. In some circumstances it's very important that you receive care from a doctor:

  • When diarrhea is bloody. This may be a symptom of E. coli O157:H7.
  • When diarrhea or vomiting is excessive. This may lead to dehydration if fluids aren't replaced.
  • When these three symptoms all appear: stiff neck, severe headache, and fever. The victim may have Listeria, which can be life-threatening.
  • When you suspect illness from Clostridium botu-linum or Vibrio vulnificus, which can be fatal.
  • When the victim is at high risk-perhaps a young child, an elderly person, or someone whose immune system is compromised due to illness.
  • When symptoms persist longer than three days.
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