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How long does food poisoning last?

·3 mins

One bite into my burger and I knew something was off. At first, I thought it was the chef accidentally overcooking the patty, throwing off the usual savory flavors. However, my gut feeling turned out to be right. Less than an hour later, I was having a horrible case of food poisoning. Anyone who has dealt with food poisoning knows it’s an experience no one wants to repeat. My significant other at the time, who also got sick, felt better after a few hours — but I did not fully recover until two days later. That’s because the time it takes for your body to purge everything depends on the amount of foodborne, illness-causing germs on the food ingested. Most food poisoning cases are mild and get better after a few days of rest at home, although there are some rare cases in which a person will need immediate medical attention. There’s no exact way to predict how long food poisoning will last, but there are ways to make the recovery process go smoother. Roughly 1 in 6 people living in the United States will experience foodborne illness, including food poisoning, annually. The most common culprits are norovirus, salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, campylobacter, and Staphylococcus aureus. The time it takes for people to feel the effects of food poisoning depends on the type of bacteria. Some bacteria can have an incubation period of one to two days. If the food poisoning comes from staph-induced toxins, the illness should last no longer than a day. People tend to recover from food poisoning in one to two days, but cases can last up to two to four weeks after exposure. There is no single treatment that will speed up recovery. It takes time for your body to flush out the toxins causing the food poisoning, usually 24 to 48 hours. To keep yourself comfortable and avoid dehydration, it is recommended to stay constantly hydrated. If you are replenishing with an electrolyte solution, make sure the product is low in sugar. Along with water, it is advised to replace lost fluids with broths and sports drinks. Fruit juice with water added can also be consumed. Children should use an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte to ease food poisoning symptoms. You’ll also want to steer clear of solid foods for 24 hours, especially if you are having trouble keeping food down. Doing so gives the digestive system time to rest and recover during this period of inflammation. Adults can take over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications to manage diarrhea symptoms. After 24 hours, it is recommended to eat small bites of bland food with high carbohydrates. The BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce, toast — is good if you are dealing with diarrhea. Saltine crackers are also usually tolerable and can help with replacing lost electrolytes. If you are dealing with nausea and vomiting, it is advised not to eat heavily seasoned food, dairy, gas-producing foods, and fibrous foods. There are some scenarios that warrant a trip to the hospital. Older adults and those with a weakened immune system should see a doctor immediately for food poisoning treatment. Additionally, people should visit the emergency room if their symptoms persist for a week, if they feel lightheadedness, or if they experience bloody diarrhea. A healthcare provider can provide IV fluids and make a full evaluation to see if there is an electrolyte imbalance or other issues.