Food poisoning is rarely serious and usually gets better within a week. You can normally treat yourself or your child at home.
Check if you have food poisoning
Symptoms of food poisoning include:
- feeling sick (nausea)
- being sick (vomiting)
- stomach cramps
- a high temperature of 38C or above
- feeling generally unwell – such as feeling tired or having aches and chills
The symptoms usually start within a few days of eating the food that caused the infection.
Sometimes they start after a few hours or not for a few weeks.
How to treat food poisoning yourself
You can usually treat yourself or your child at home.
The symptoms usually pass within a week.
Stay off school or work until the symptoms have stopped for 2 days. This is when you're most infectious.
How you get food poisoning
You can catch food poisoning if you eat something that has been contaminated with germs.
This can happen if food:
- isn't cooked or reheated thoroughly
- isn't stored correctly – for example, it's not been frozen or chilled
- is left out for too long
- is handled by someone who's ill or hasn't washed their hands
- is eaten after its "use by" date
Any type of food can cause food poisoning. Read tips to avoid food poisoning.
Infections that cause food poisoning
Food poisoning is usually caused by:
- campylobacter bacteria – the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK
- salmonella bacteria
- E. coli bacteria
Page last reviewed: 23 April 2018
Next review due: 23 April 2021