Skip to Content

Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.


Some bacteria can cause diarrhea by infecting your colon, and others can cause symptoms by poisoning your food. Food poisoning can result when foods remain at room temperature or a warm temperature for several hours. While food is at warm temperatures, trace amounts of bacteria on the surface of the food can multiply or the bacteria can generate large amounts of an irritating chemical known as a "toxin." Egg-containing products, meats, seafood and rice are all very vulnerable to food poisoning.

When you consume food containing a bacterial toxin, you are likely to develop abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, or a combination of these symptoms within hours of eating. When food poisoning is caused by bacterial growth in the colon rather than by a toxin, symptoms can take several days to appear. Sometimes, several people who have shared a meal become sick at the same time from food poisoning. At other times, only one person at the table may become ill.

Before you developed diarrhea, did you eat food that may have been improperly prepared or stored?

Yes, I am suspicious about a food that I ate.

No, food poisoning does not seem likely.

Disclaimer: This content should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a call or visit to a health professional. Use of this content is subject to specific Terms of Use & Medical Disclaimers.