ZocdocAnswersCan food poisoning lead to more serious health risks?

Question

Can food poisoning lead to more serious health risks?

I had food poisoning last week from eating at a restaurant. Could this lead to more health problems down the road? I know its caused by a bacterial infection, so could the infection continue after the food poisoning symptoms go away?

Answer

Food poisoning is most often a self-limited infection. That is to say, it often lasts for a few days and then improves on its own without any residual symptoms or problems. Rarely, there can be complications, but this would be unusual. I would recommend that you talk to your doctor if you have continued symptoms after a week. Food poisoning, as you suggest, is caused by an infection. It can be caused by a bacteria, virus or toxin (a protein made by a bacteria -- but not the bacteria itself). The body often deals with these infections on its own and the symptoms resolve. There are some cases where there can be a residual symptom. For example, there is some thought (although not proven) that people with stomach infections can subsequently develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome (known as IBS). Rarely, people can develop kidney problems from a severe food poisoning event. These are relatively rare. Occasionally people who have continued "food poisoning" symptoms are eventually found to not have food poisoning at all -- but rather another disease like irritable bowel disease. It just appears to be food poisoning as it is the first event. Talk to your doctor if you have continued symptoms. This should not cause long term effects to your health, but rarely this can occur. Good luck!

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