Food poisoningOverview

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)
  • diarrhoea
  • 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.

Page last reviewed: 22/04/2018
Next review due: 22/04/2021