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Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers

Food is not supposed to make you sick. But when you eat contaminated food or drink unsafe water, you can get food poisoning or foodborne illness. How long food poisoning lasts can vary, depending on:

  • The type of bacteria, virus, or parasite
  • The amount of pathogen on the contaminated food consumed
  • Your overall health, especially if you are immunocompromised

Sometimes food poisoning is caused by someone’s negligence. But food manufacturers and sellers also have a strict duty to ensure that the food they sell you is unadulterated. So if you are sickened by contaminated food, beverage, or drinking water through no fault of your own, contact a food poisoning lawyer. You may have significant medical bills and suffer for an extended time.

Common Types of Food Poisoning and How Long Side-Effects Last

The length of time you experience symptoms will mainly depend on which type of food poisoning you have, how contaminated the food was, and how seriously the infection takes hold.

E. coli Infection

An E. coli infection is commonly contracted through eating contaminated foods like unpasteurized milk, apple cider, soft cheeses, and unclean water. Several recent outbreaks have also been linked to contaminated leafy greens. A foodborne illness from E. coli typically lasts about five to ten days. But some people, especially children, may develop a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

If that happens to you, it could be life-threatening and may impact your life forever. Therefore, you should see a doctor, go to an urgent care center, or visit the nearest ER if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a potentially deadly infection contracted through eating contaminated food or drinking water. It can also be transmitted from person to person through close contact. This infection typically clears up within two months. However, it may permanently affect your liver function.


Cyclospora is an infection that causes prolonged diarrhea that almost always requires a specific antibiotic to recover. The illness can last for weeks or months, and the symptoms can even clear up and reappear later.


Listeria infections are bacterial and typically cause a mild illness. But they are particularly dangerous for pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and individuals with compromised immune symptoms. This infection is found in unpasteurized dairy products, fruits, and vegetables, deli meats, smoked seafood, or any other contaminated food during an unsafe production process.

Listeria has a long incubation period of between seven and 70 days, and it can spread beyond the gut.

Salmonella Infection

Salmonella is a bacterium that often causes food poisoning from meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and spices. You may have symptoms within eight to 72 hours after exposure. The acute infection typically lasts between two and seven days though diarrhea can last up to 10 days. Medical treatment is necessary for severe cases, especially if you become dehydrated.

In some cases, a Salmonella infection can lead to a serious complication called Reactive Arthritis (or Reiter’s Syndrome).

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning has many symptoms. Depending on the kind of food poisoning you have, these symptoms may vary in the severity and length of time you experience them.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention or the CDC, some of the most common symptoms for generic food poisoning include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

When to See a Doctor

Unfortunately, sometimes the only thing you can do with a foodborne illness is wait for it to pass. In the meantime, drink plenty of clear liquids to avoid dehydration.

You may need to see a doctor if you have:

  • Blood in your stool or vomit
  • High fever
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents you from keeping clear liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration (feeling thirsty, dark urine, dizziness)
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than three days

Call a Food Poisoning Attorney for Help

If you get sick from eating contaminated food, you may be eligible to get compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Call OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers at (888) 828-7087 for a free consultation. We are also available via our online contact form.

Notable Recoveries

$10 million

Seven infants were sickened after consuming a contaminated food product marketed to infants

$6.5 million

Verdict on behalf of a little boy who contracted a severe Salmonella infection from chicken

$7.55 million

Verdict on behalf of a little girl who contracted E. coli at a petting zoo

$2.25 million

E. coli infections contracted from a major fast food chain

$45 million

An over-the-counter medication caused severe kidney damage to multiple users

$3.4 million

A pregnant woman contracted a Listeria infection from contaminated fruit and passed the infection to her child

$3 million

Multistate Cyclospora outbreaks


A couple contracted Salmonella from a restaurant


A pedestrian was struck by a left-turning car, fracturing her tibia


A semi-truck rear-ended a motorcyclist causing a collapsed lung, rib fractures and road rash