Nothing ruins the memory of a delicious meal more than food poisoning. Lurking infectious organisms or toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning, and contamination can happen in any kitchen where the food is improperly handled. For the most part, food poisoning is an unpleasant experience that goes away without medical intervention, but people with severe cases are susceptible to dangerous and possibly deadly dehydration. Signs can show up in as little as a few hours after contamination, or they might appear after days or weeks. To make sure you catch food poisoning when it starts, here is an overview of the most common symptoms for food poisoning:

Nausea and vomiting
People experiencing nausea feel a strong need to purge the contents of their stomach, and vomiting is completing that act of expulsion. Because stomach acid also rises with your food, vomiting can be painful. Drinking plenty of clear liquids may help ease the acid and relieve some of the discomfort of vomiting. Some drinks like seltzer or ginger ale can alleviate nausea as well. While emptying your stomach contents feels extremely unpleasant, vomiting helps your body fight food poisoning. Something is wrong with the food, and your system wants to get it out. While vomiting usually ceases over time, a person vomiting blood should seek immediate medical care.

Watery diarrhea
Diarrhea is another way your body combats contamination, as the body tries to push the contaminants out. Diarrhea is marked by loose, watery and frequent stools. Children and infants with diarrhea should receive medical attention immediately because they can dehydrate quickly. Adults with diarrhea can usually fend off dehydration by constantly replenishing their bodies with liquids. Diarrhea that lasts longer than three days or bloody bowel movements may signal grave complications and should be addressed by a doctor as soon as possible.

Abdominal pain and cramps
All of this internal fighting will cause stress on your digestive system, and such exertion can result in abdominal pain and cramps. Avoiding solid foods for a few hours may help the abdomen quiet down. Drinking milk or eating other dairy products can cause gas and aggravate the pain. People experiencing severe pain should seek professional medical care.

Fever and chills
Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Viruses and bacteria thrive at normal body temperatures, so fever helps battle conditions like food poisoning. Medication can help lower the fever, but eliminating the fever completely could actually hinder recovery. However, a person with an extreme fever should contact a health care professional. According to the National Institutes of Health, high fevers that pose a problem are usually 101 degrees for adults and 100.4 degrees in children.

Dehydration is the most perilous complication of food poisoning. By the time you feel thirsty, you may already be experiencing dehydration. An individual exhibiting signs of dehydration should seek out medical intervention immediately. The symptoms of dehydration include: excessive thirst, dry mouth, little urination, weakness, dizziness or feeling lightheaded. Prevent dehydration by continuously drinking liquids. Electrolyte-rich drinks help replenish salts and other nutrients lost during food poisoning. Anyone experiencing signs of dehydration should contact a doctor.