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Diarrhea is usually treated well with home care, but call your health care provider if you have any of these complications:

  • If you are unable to tolerate any food or drink
  • If you are elderly or have serious underlying medical problems, particularly diabetes, heart, kidney, or liver disease, or HIV or AIDS (Contact your health care provider when diarrhea first begins. You may be at higher risk for developing complications.)
  • If you need advice about preventing dehydration in newborns and infants
  • If your symptoms do not improve in 2-3 days or appear to become worse
  • If you develop diarrhea after foreign travel (and even during trips within the US)

Go to a hospital's emergency department in these situations involving diarrhea :

    A.  If you have severe diarrhea along with high fever, moderate-to-severe abdominal pain , or dehydration that cannot be managed by drinking fluids

    B.  If the diarrhea appears to contain blood (may be bright red or may look like black, thick tar)

    C.  If you appear very sleepy or are acting unusual (others may notice this and take you for emergency treatment)


Self-Care at Home

Adults: Make sure you do not become dehydrated. Drink plenty of fluids.

The type of drink is not as important as simply replenishing lost water. But avoid milk. It will make diarrhea worse. Diet soft drinks do not provide the calories that dehydrated people may need, so regular soda or soft drinks may be selected to replace lost water.

Try to eat. The food does not need to be bland, but try to avoid greasy or fatty foods. Infants and children should be encouraged to eat bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast—the BRAT diet a combination used for decades to treat diarrhea . If diarrhea is accompanied by nausea, suck on ice chips until the nausea stops. After the diarrhea stops, avoid alcoholic beverages and spicy foods for 2 more days.

Continue your usual activities if you are mildly ill with diarrhea but avoid strenuous exercise until you feel better because it increases the risk of dehydration.

Children: dehydration is also a concern

Very young infants pose special problems because of their increased risk of dehydration. They should be offered a bottle frequently. Solutions such as Pedialyte may be more appealing than water. These fluids also contain necessary salts lost with diarrhea . But avoid salt tablets. They may worsen diarrhea and should never be used.

Children with frequent stools, fever, or vomiting should stay home from school and daycare until these symptoms go away. In addition to allowing the child to rest and recover, this also helps prevent other children from becoming ill.


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