Food poisoning? Use your symptoms to find the culprit!

Diet & Nutrition

It comes on fast—the nausea, vomiting and cramping that tells you something you ate is making you sick. If you’re like most people, you immediately blame the last thing you ate for causing your food poisoning. But, in fact, it could be from a meal as long as 2 days ago!

Your symptoms can help you pin down just when you ate the infected food. If you have nausea and vomiting without any diarrhea, cramping or other food-poisoning symptoms – it’s likely from something you ate within the last 4 to 6 hours. But if you experience all the symptoms, the culprit is likely from a meal you had 18 to 48 hours prior – depending on how quickly your body usually digests food.

Figuring out when you ate the infected food can be crucial to preventing future illness. For instance, if you blame the takeout you had for lunch instead of the egg salad you made yesterday—you could fail to throw out the tainted mayonnaise that was the actual culprit.

Also, certain types of food poisoning are reported to the Centers for Disease Control so they can monitor for and prevent large outbreaks. The added insight you can provide may help keep someone else from getting sick.

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