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Food Poisoning and Diarrhea: What you need to know

Can Food Poisoning Cause Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of food poisoning.  It may begin within hours or take days—sometimes weeks—to appear after eating contaminated food. Complications of diarrhea include dehydration, electrolyte (mineral) abnormalities, and irritation of the anus.

Food Poisoning that Causes Diarrhea:

Many types of food poisoning can cause diarrhea,  and the onset of diarrhea can vary depending on the type of contamination.

Common pathogens that cause diarrhea within hours include:

  • Salmonella is a bacterium you’ve probably heard of, and diarrhea and other symptoms are likely to appear within 6-48 hours. Salmonella is found on raw meat and poultry, and eggs and can spread from contaminated utensils and surfaces.
  • Staphylococcus aureus causes diarrhea within 1-6 hours and can contaminate cream sauces, meats, and prepared salads. This bacterium can also spread person to person through droplets or hand contact.  
  • Noroviruses can cause diarrhea 12-48 hours after you’re exposed through contaminated raw fruits or vegetables, oysters, or by an infected food handler.
  • Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism. Symptoms usually appear in 12-72 hours and can include nervous system symptoms along with diarrhea and other gastric issues. Botulism can be severe and long-lasting and requires medical attention. Foods that can carry clostridium botulinum include improperly canned foods, fermented fish, and baked potatoes cooked in aluminum foil.
  • The bacteria Bacillus cereus and Clostridium perfringens cause diarrhea that begins 8-16 hours after ingesting contaminated meats, gravy, stews, precooked foods, and food not kept at proper temperatures.
  • Listeria, is a bacterium that can be carried by unpasteurized dairy products or ready-to-eat deli meats. Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms may begin in as little as nine hours, but Listeria can be serious, with disease progression that can include neurologic symptoms and complications of pregnancy.

Common pathogens that can cause diarrhea beginning days to weeks after exposure:

  • E. Coli is a very common cause of food-borne diarrhea. It is carried by foods contaminated by feces and symptoms including diarrhea (sometimes bloody) begin 3-4 days after the food is consumed.
  • Campylobacter is a bacterium carried by animal feces. Eating contaminated meat or dairy leads to diarrhea and other symptoms starting at around 2-10 days.
  • Cryptosporidium is a parasite that contaminates undercooked food, water, and can be passed by an infected food handler. Diarrhea and other symptoms usually begin within 2-10 days.
  • Cyclospora is a parasite found in water that contaminates fresh produce, resulting in diarrhea and other symptoms about a week after ingestion.
  • Vibrio vulnificus is bacteria most commonly spread by eating raw oysters or other undercooked shellfish. Diarrhea and other symptoms begin in 1-7 days. Vibrio infections can result in serious disease.

Is Diarrhea a serious symptom?

Most food poisoning does not cause serious disease, but a few types can be dangerous, especially for older people, those with other health conditions, and pregnant women and young children.

While diarrhea is usually not more than an uncomfortable illness, it can lead to dehydration and further complications. If you experience symptoms, increase your fluid intake. If your symptoms last more than a day or two, get worse, or become severe, call your doctor.

Should I report food poisoning?

In case you are experiencing food poisoning symptoms, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance.

Read more

Recent Diarrhea Reports

I ordered my usual 3 tacos today (03/29/2023) and it completely tore out my stomach I’ve puked 8 times and had diarrhea since 8:30pm it is now 11:30pm. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting See Less

We ate there tonight. Told them serious allergy to shell fish ordered salad instead of cheese sticks because they use same grease for seafood as non seafood. Mom and I ordered fiesta lime chicken. Only are half of meal was great. But like half hour later mom... See More started feeling nausea and then diarrhea. I started having it couple hours later. I've eaten there before with chicken penne and didn't have this issue and I always have ordered cheese sticks. Is been a couple years since I ate there. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea See Less

We ate dinner from there last night. It’s the only place we have eaten together in the last few days and we both started having diarrhea tonight at almost the same time. | Symptoms: Diarrhea See Less

on my lunch break I ordered the Deluxe burger with bacon. Sides were fries, BBQ sauce dip, bottled water, and additional side of cole slaw. The cole slaw tasted sort of tangy. I noticed within 20-30 minutes of being finished eating, that I was having really deep... See More feeling burps that had a type of potent, almost chemical-like taste and smell. An hour after finishing eating I began noticing my stomach was bloated. 2 hours after finishing eating I began experiencing some stomach cramps. The burping also was continuing. I then had to run to the bathroom where I proceeded to have severe digestion cramps that were loud and audible. I was stuck on the toilet for around 50 minutes to an hour. At one moment it felt like I was going to pass out from the cramps. My legs, feet, arms and hands were trembling. I never eat at here, so this was something spur of the moment for lunch. When I got home from work, the diarrhea continued for another 30 minutes. Then, things felt back to normal by night time. | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Cramps, Burping See Less

Suspected food poisoning. Symptoms: Diarrhea, Nausea, Stomach Pain, Chills, Headache
Suspected source: not sure
Onset: 4 to 12 hours
Duration: Several days
Sick: Me | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Nausea, Stomach Pain, Chills, Headache See Less

Food is good, but when I woke up this morning I vomited I’ve been feeling nauseous the whole night. Then today nonstop I had diarrhea! | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting See Less

Suspected food poisoning. Symptoms: Diarrhea, other: Other
Suspected source: Their food
Onset: 12 to 24 hours
Duration: 12 to 24 hours | Symptoms: Diarrhea See Less

Suspected food poisoning. Symptoms: Diarrhea, Stomach Pain
Suspected source: Slupee
Onset: 4 to 12 hours
Duration: 12 to 24 hours
Additional information: The machine definitely needs a good clean See Less

Got a beef and cheddar combo. Ate half the sandwich last night. Woke up to diarrhea and nausea. Finished the other half just today at lunch time just thinking it was my anxiety...1 hour later was vomiting and still suffering with nausea and diarrhea. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting See Less

Diarrhea all night, vomiting x4, sharp abdominal pain. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Stomach Pain See Less

Last 30 days