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Signs & Symptoms of Food Poisoning From Bad Meat

author image Solomon Branch
Solomon Branch specializes in nutrition, health, acupuncture, herbal medicine and integrative medicine. He has a B.A. in English from George Mason University, as well as a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Poisoning From Bad Meat
Improperly stored or handled meat is a common cause of food poisoning. Photo Credit Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Food poisoning from eating meat is typically the result of bacterial contamination, usually due to improper handling, storing or cooking. The symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the bacteria present as well as the type of bacteria. Symptoms can start from four to 24 hours after eating contaminated meat. Mild food poisoning often gets resolved on its own, but more severe food poisoning may require medical treatment.

Intestinal Symptoms

Symptoms of food poisoning are typically felt first and foremost in the digestive system. Your intestinal system reacts to the invading bacteria with symptoms such as abdominal cramping, bloating, gas and nausea. As your body attempts to get rid of the bacteria, you may also experience vomiting and diarrhea. Certain types of bacteria, particularly salmonella and E. coli, can cause bleeding in the lower intestines, which can result in bloody diarrhea. In the case of an E. coli infection, you may experience more blood than stool, which can last for up to three days after eating the contaminated meat.

Elevated Temperature

Most bacteria and viruses that cause any type of infection in humans thrive best at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to MedlinePlus. This is the average, normal temperature of the human body. In an effort to kill the bacteria, your body will increase its temperature, giving you a fever. Having a fever is a normal part of your body's immune response and is often accompanied by chills, but it can cause harm if it goes on for too long or is too high. MedlinePlus recommends consulting a doctor if a fever lasts for more than 48 hours or is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.

Body Aches

As your body releases chemicals to help fight off bacteria, those same chemicals can create an aching feeling in your head or muscles. If you have been experiencing diarrhea and vomiting, you may also be dehydrated, which depletes your body's electrolytes and can also contribute to sore muscles. You might also experience a sense of overall bodily weakness, which may be the sign of a more serious condition, according to MedlinePlus.

Additional Symptoms

Most cases of food poisoning from eating bad meat are due to bacteria that only cause digestive symptoms, but certain bacteria are exceptions. For example, although a rare type of food poisoning, meat infected with Clostridium botulinum -- commonly referred to as botulism -- can cause blurred or double vision, sensitivity to light, paralyzed eye nerves, difficulty speaking and problems swallowing. In a severe case of botulism, it can paralyze the muscles and cause respiratory failure. Meat infected with campylobacteriosis can cause urinary tract infections and reactive arthritis in a severe case.

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