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Seasickness or food poisoning? How to tell the difference

When you set sail on a cruise, you expect to enjoy the salty breeze and crimson sunsets with a mimosa in hand as the kids swim in the pool. Paradise could be interrupted, unfortunately, by abrupt illness. Now you must spend the rest of your vacation in your cabin bathroom – sans mimosa.

It’s easy to confuse seasickness and food poisoning. After all, they have very similar symptoms. Knowing the difference between them can help ease your suffering as well as determine your legal options when you recover.

Food poisoning symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, food poisoning can vary from person to person, but you will probably experience symptoms within a few hours of eating spoiled or infected food. If you’re taking the cruise with family members, some of them might have similar symptoms.

Aside from nausea and vomiting, which could also be from seasickness, you might suffer fever, diarrhea and cramps. While food poisoning doesn’t typically last more than a day of two, some cases could be serious. The Mayo Clinic warns that you could become dehydrated or develop critical health issues.

What to do now

As with any injury, you need to first take care of your health by finding a doctor or medical staff member on the ship. Cruise ships must always be fully prepared to handle medical emergencies.

Because food poisoning usually begins a few hours after you eat tainted food, you should write down everything you ate earlier that day. Ask around to see if other guests also reported sickness, especially if you notice a trend with what they ordered.

You should immediately alert staff so that they can check ingredients and remove bad items from the menu. This can keep others, especially children and elderly guests, from the same fate.

Food poisoning likely ruined your expensive getaway and put you and your family in danger at no fault of your own. Cruise companies have a legal obligation to make sure that guests are safe, so you can fight back when they fail.

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