Symptoms of staph food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, retching, stomach cramping, and diarrhea. In more severe cases, dehydration, headache, muscle cramping, and changes in blood pressure and pulse rate may occur. Symptoms generally come on quickly. How severe they are depends on your susceptibility to the toxin, how much contaminated food you ate, how much of the toxin you ingested, and your general health. The condition is generally over in 2 days; however, it is not unusual for complete recovery to take 3 days and sometimes longer in severe cases. – WebMD
I met a guy in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica a few years ago who had come down with a case of food poisoning after eating undercooked chicken. He said he noticed the chicken looked odd, however ate it anyway (lesson: always trust your instincts). He described the next few days like death. The people at the hostel helped get him some antibiotic, I think, however he basically had to wait it out in his tent. I have a slight sense of what that must've been like after this past weekend.
At 4am Saturday morning, the nurse I spoke to on the advice line said it was either the stomach flu (gastroenteritis), or a mild case of food poisoning. Don't try telling me what I was going through was “mild,” I thought. I had spent the last 4 hours feeling possessed in my bathroom. Like a scene from The Exorcist, I was not in control of my body. At the time, I ran through memories of my worst alcohol-related experiences, and none came close. Indeed, whatever had invaded my digestive tract was pure evil.
By sunrise Saturday, the worst of it seemed to be over. I was able to keep down the little sips of water I had been taking since 4am, and was continuing to drift in and out of sleep. I had a headache for which I couldn't take medicine (for fear it wouldn't stay down), and a sore throat. I had lost about 5 pounds in the past 24 hours. I spent Saturday in bed, trying to catch up on my sleep. By Sunday morning, at the time I'm writing this post, my headache has dissipated, and sore throat abated. I had signed up for a Photo Safari of Old Town Alexandria for this afternoon, with the hope that I could improve my photography skills, however I don't have the energy to attend.
One of my bigger travel fears is coming down with food poisoning (among other diseases), especially if I am in a rural or remote area (such as the Himalaya). If you've ever read advice on how to avoid it, you know the experts basically suggest you stay away from street food altogether, and take a very strict approach toward eating anything else. For example, you should stay away from raw lettuce (as in salads) in case they were washed with contaminated water.
For better or worse, I now have a sense of what it would feel like, and I didn't even need to buy a plane ticket.
Read more about Food Poisoning or Stomach Flu at WebMD
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