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How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

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Food poisoning normally passes within a few days and can usually be treated at home

When you’re suffering from food poisoning, you usually wait for it to pass—waiting while your body combats the harmful bacteria, parasite, or virus.

Food poisoning often resolves on its own, but symptoms may last for a few days.

In this post, I will discuss several types of food poisoning and their incubation periods, so as to help you know what to expect if you find yourself experiencing food poisoning.

I’ll also offer some ways to avoid future bouts of food poisoning, and some advice on when you should talk to a doctor.

How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

Food poisoning symptoms can last a few hours to a few days.

How long food poisoning lasts depends on which microorganism infected you.

After you ingest contaminated food or beverage, it may take hours or days until you develop symptoms.

Here are some time frames for common causes of food poisoning.

  • Salmonella:Symptoms begin 6 hours to 6 days after exposure and last 4-7 days.
  • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph):Symptoms begin within 30 minutes to 8 hours after exposure and usually last no longer than one day.
  • Norovirus:Symptoms begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure and last 1-2 days.
  • Coli:Symptoms begin 3-4 days after exposure and last 5-10 days.
  • Listeria:Symptoms begin within 2 weeks after exposure and last 1-3 days.

Food Poisoning Incubation Time

Food poisoning symptoms can set in anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks after eating contaminated food, depending on the type of illness you’re experiencing.


Symptoms of parasitic food poisoning, like giardia, generally last 2-6 weeks.

Symptoms normally start 1-2 weeks after exposure.

The state of an individual’s immune system, their age, and preexisting conditions may affect how long parasitic food poisoning lasts.


Bacterial food poisoning is the most common type of foodborne illness in the United States.

Symptoms usually set in 8-48 hours after exposure.

The recovery time for a bacterial foodborne illness is 24 hours to 7 days. Some common bacterial foodborne illnesses come from E. coli bacteria (Escherichia coli), listeria bacteria, clostridium perfringens, and salmonella.


Viral food poisoning incubation periods can vary depending on the type of virus you have been contracted.

Norovirus generally lasts from 1-3 days. Hepatitis A, another type of viral infection, can last up to 6 months, but people generally only present symptoms for a few weeks.

Food poisoning, sometimes also called foodborne illness, is a common but preventable condition caused by eating foods contaminated with harmful pathogens.

Many cases of food poisoning are mild and get better on their own. Severe or chronic cases, however, may require medical intervention.

A healthcare provider can help

Food poisoning usually goes away on its own. But if you have a stubborn case of foodborne illness, a healthcare provider can tell you if it’s something you should worry about, or if the condition will go away on its own.

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