When to See a Doctor for Diarrhea



Most diarrhea goes away on its own in a few days. When diarrhea lasts for longer, tests are needed to find out what’s causing it so proper treatment can be administered.

A visit to the doctor for diarrhea will consist of a physical examination and a full medical history, including a review of your medication. A physician will also carefully feel your abdomen and may perform a rectal exam.

Additionally, testing for acute diarrhea may include:

  • Stool Test This might be recommended to determine whether you have a bacteria or a parasite infection. A healthcare professional will give you containers for catching and storing your stool samples, as well as instructions on where to send or take the containers for analysis.
  • Blood Test A complete blood count can show signs of infection, anemia, inflammation, or imbalances of electrolytes, to help determine the cause of your diarrhea.

If diarrhea persists, or if there are worrisome signs like bleeding, your doctor may order other tests, which include:

  • Colonoscopy or Sigmoidoscopy These are both tests involving a lighted tube with a camera. A colonoscopy involves following a special diet the day before the exam, typically with no solid foods and usually not eating or drinking anything after midnight the night before the exam. You will also need to take a laxative in either pill or liquid form or use an enema kit to empty your colon. During the procedure, for which you are sedated, the tube is inserted into the rectum and the camera gives the doctor a view of the inside of the entire colon to check for abnormalities.A sigmoidoscopy is a similar procedure but looks at the rectum and lower portion of the colon only.
  • Hydrogen Breath Test This test is used to diagnose lactose intolerance by measuring the amount of hydrogen in your breath. When someone is lactose intolerant, undigested lactose produces high levels of hydrogen in the breath. The test involves drinking a beverage with a known amount of lactose and then breathing into a balloon-type container to measure breath hydrogen levels. A high level of hydrogen will lead to a diagnosis of lactose intolerance.
  • Fasting Test This will help determine if a food intolerance or allergy is the cause of your diarrhea. Your physician may ask you to avoid certain foods, including dairy, wheat, carbohydrates, or other ingredients in an effort to see if your symptoms of diarrhea respond to those diet changes.

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Diarrhea Symptoms: When Are They Something More Serious?

Diarrhea Symptoms: When Are They Something More Serious? By Joanne BarkerDiarrhea can be a temporary thing, or it can signal something more serious. If you have diarrhea, how can you tell whether you should wait it out or see a doctor?Run-of-the-Mill SymptomsDiarrhea makes its presence known with several urgent trips to the bathroom in a short time. You know it’s diarrhea when you pass loose, watery stool two or more times a day.You may also have:CrampingAbdominal painBloatingNauseaFeverVomitingEven without medicine, diarrhea usually goes away on its own within 48 hours. The most important things you can do in the meantime are:Stay hydrated while the diarrhea runs its course.Avoid foods that will make your symptoms worse.Avoid Dehydration It can follow close on the heels of diarrhea, especially when symptoms linger, or if you vomit.As soon as you realize diarrhea is on its way, make fluids a top priority.When you have diarrhea, drink plenty of water. Also get fluids that will boost your sodium and electrolyte levels. Examples include:BrothSoupFruits and fruit juicesWhen Symptoms Get SeriousMost cases of diarrhea are nothing more than a brief inconvenience. But sometimes, they warn of a serious condition.Talk with your doctor if your child has diarrhea for more than 24 hours. If you have it for more than 3 days, make an appointment.Call your doctor right away if you have:Severe abdominal or rectal painBlood in your stoolBlack, tarry stoolsHigh fever (greater than 101.3 F)Signs of dehydrationThese can be warning signs of things like:InfectionInflammatory bowel diseasePancreatitisColon cancerAlso, be sure to let your doctor know about your diarrhea if you have cancer, or have had recent treatment for it.When Diarrhea Won’t Go AwayIf you still have diarrhea after 4 weeks, then you have chronic diarrhea.To figure out the cause, your doctor will want to know your symptoms and medical history. You’ll get the most out of your appointment if you can tell them:How long you’ve had diarrheaWhether your diarrhea comes and goes, or is continuousIf you think certain foods and situations make things better or worseIf your stool looks bloody, oily, fatty, or wateryOther symptoms you have and how long you’ve had themIf you have a family history of chronic diarrheaPlaces you’ve traveled to recentlyUnusual foods you’ve tried in the last little whileAny medication or supplements you’re takingIf you’ve lost a lot of weight

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When to See a Doctor for Diarrhea – Houston Methodist

When to See a Doctor for Diarrhea It keeps you tied to a bathroom, interrupting your day. It’s … unpleasant, to say the least. It’s diarrhea. When you’ve got it, you want it over fast. And if it’s something you’ve been dealing with for a while, you’re looking for answers. “Diarrhea is very common and, most of the time, it’s short-lived and clears up on its own,” says Dr. Neeharika Kalakota, a gastroenterologist at Houston Methodist. “But it can also be severe or chronic, and that’s when diarrhea becomes more concerning.” What causes diarrhea? There are two overarching types of diarrhea — acute and chronic. Both result in the release of loose and watery stools, usually at least three times in a single 24-hour period. Acute diarrhea is transient — lasting for just a day or two, though sometimes as long as two weeks. It also frequently presents with other symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and even fever. Chronic diarrhea, on the other hand, persists over a longer period of time — 30 days or more by true clinical definition. The two have different underlying causes. Causes of acute diarrhea “Acute diarrhea is almost always the result of an intestinal infection — usually viral, often foodborne,” says Dr. Kalakota. “These infections are typically self-limiting and the resulting diarrhea often doesn’t last beyond 48 hours.” Many of the viruses that cause foodborne illness are very contagious, making fecal-oral transmission a possibility. For instance, norovirus and rotavirus — the most common causes of diarrhea, often referred to as stomach flu — can quickly spread through homes, workplaces and other close quarters, like cruise ships. They’re frequently found in day-care facilities and passed from child to parents. Several types of bacteria can also cause acute diarrhea through foodborne illness. “Interestingly, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can cause a number of gastrointestinal symptoms, including acute diarrhea,” Dr. Kalakota adds. “This only occurs in a subset of people, though, and it’s important to note that COVID-19 isn’t foodborne like the other viruses and bacteria that are the more common causes of diarrhea.” Instead, COVID-19 primarily spreads through infectious respiratory droplets. And while it may also spread through fecal-oral transmission, this risk should be low if you’re practicing proper bathroom etiquette. Causes of chronic diarrhea Diarrhea that persists over time is typically caused by an underlying health issue or condition, such as: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) Irritable bowel disease (IBD), which can manifest as either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis Lactose intolerance Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease Chronic pancreatitis Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) Surgical removal of the gall bladder “Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can also cause diarrhea, including ibuprofen and certain blood pressure drugs,” says Dr. Kalakota. Supplements taken in high dosages — vitamin C and magnesium, in particular — can also be sources of diarrhea. How can you get rid of diarrhea? Why didn’t we ask this question first? Well, how to stop diarrhea can depend on what’s causing it. Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications can help reduce some of the discomfort and inconvenience that comes with diarrhea, but they don’t treat the underlying cause. Remember, acute diarrhea is self-limiting and typically clears up in a day or two, with or without an anti-diarrheal. “In the meantime, it’s important to keep up with fluids and food as best you can, since dehydration can become a concern if the fluids and electrolytes you’re losing aren’t replaced,” Dr. Kalakota explains. “Getting plenty of rest can help you feel better, too.” She…

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The Lowdown on Diarrhea: When is It Time to See a Doctor

the-low-down-on-diarrhea-when-is-it-time-to-see-a-doctorDiarrhea is a menace in the form of hard-to-control bowel movements and loose, watery stools three or more times per day—quite the hassle when you’re at work, traveling, or doing everyday activities. Other unpleasant diarrhea symptoms include: An urgent need to use the bathroom Inability to control bowel movements Nausea Stomach pain But along with being annoying, severe diarrhea can dehydrate the body, leading to further health complications, such as low blood pressure or fainting. Diarrhea comes in two forms: acute and chronic. The conditions have similar symptoms, but much different implications for patients. Acute diarrhea lasts for less than two weeks and gets better on its own. It’s usually a sign of an infection, food poisoning, lactose intolerance, or gastroenteritis. Chronic diarrhea can last much longer and can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or C. difficile infection. Most acute cases can be managed at home, but severe diarrhea warrants a visit with the doctor. Let’s discuss how to manage diarrhea and the tell-tale signs of when to go see your doctor.5 ways to overcome diarrhea 1. Stay hydrated There are over-the-counter oral rehydration solutions sold in pharmacies, but I always suggest to patients an easy way to make it at home. Mix six teaspoons of sugar, one-half teaspoon of salt, and a half-gallon of water in a container and drink it throughout the day. The sugar and salt help your body absorb water better, which keeps you better hydrated.2. Consider taking zinc supplements Zinc been shown to reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea, especially in children. This is used more commonly in developing countries, but something to keep in mind if you’re having ongoing acute diarrhea.3. Eat a healthy diet I advise my patients to eat a healthy, nutritious diet full of plant-based protein, increased yogurt intake, and additional prebiotic foods. These nutrients can restore the beneficial bacteria that diarrhea causes your body to flush out.4. Avoid antibiotics Antibiotics could be used to treat diarrhea, but most times they can do more harm than good. Antibiotics can disrupt the microbiome, or the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi found primarily in a person’s gut, and can cause more long-term symptoms. Plus, they can cause antibiotic-associated diarrhea from irritation or changes to the colon bacteria and even cause an infection with C. difficile. I reserve antibiotic treatment for those patients for whom it’s the only feasible treatment, such as for a proven, serious infection.5. Consider taking probiotics If I do prescribe an antibiotic, I typically recommend eating yogurt, which includes Lactobacillus, a natural probiotic that reduces the severity and duration of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Keep in mind, most probiotic supplements are not FDA regulated, so buying a probiotic and expecting big results could be a shot in the dark. Fermented foods are an excellent source of prebiotics as well and a great addition to your daily food intake. Examples of such foods are sauerkraut, kombucha tea, tempeh (made from fermented soy beans), and miso (a Japanese seasoning made from soybeans fermented with koji, which is a natural fungus. Prebiotics are foods that feed the good bacteria in our gut. You can find prebiotics in plant-based foods such as dandelion greens, onion, garlic, leeks, and common foods like…

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Know the Symptoms of Diarrhea and When to See a Doctor

Know the Symptoms of Diarrhea and When to See a DoctorTests for DiarrheaMost diarrhea goes away on its own in a few days. When diarrhea lasts for longer, tests are needed to find out what’s causing it so proper treatment can be administered.A visit to the doctor for diarrhea will consist of a physical examination and a full medical history, including a review of your medication. A physician will also carefully feel your abdomen and may perform a rectal exam.Additionally, testing for acute diarrhea may include:Stool Test This might be recommended to determine whether you have a bacteria or a parasite infection. A healthcare professional will give you containers for catching and storing your stool samples, as well as instructions on where to send or take the containers for analysis.Blood Test A complete blood count can show signs of infection, anemia, inflammation, or imbalances of electrolytes, to help determine the cause of your diarrhea.If diarrhea persists, or if there are worrisome signs like bleeding, your doctor may order other tests, which include:Colonoscopy or Sigmoidoscopy These are both tests involving a lighted tube with a camera. A colonoscopy involves following a special diet the day before the exam, typically with no solid foods and usually not eating or drinking anything after midnight the night before the exam. You will also need to take a laxative in either pill or liquid form or use an enema kit to empty your colon. During the procedure, for which you are sedated, the tube is inserted into the rectum and the camera gives the doctor a view of the inside of the entire colon to check for abnormalities.A sigmoidoscopy is a similar procedure but looks at the rectum and lower portion of the colon only.Hydrogen Breath Test This test is used to diagnose lactose intolerance by measuring the amount of hydrogen in your breath. When someone is lactose intolerant, undigested lactose produces high levels of hydrogen in the breath. The test involves drinking a beverage with a known amount of lactose and then breathing into a balloon-type container to measure breath hydrogen levels. A high level of hydrogen will lead to a diagnosis of lactose intolerance.Fasting Test This will help determine if a food intolerance or allergy is the cause of your diarrhea. Your physician may ask you to avoid certain foods, including dairy, wheat, carbohydrates, or other ingredients in an effort to see if your symptoms of diarrhea respond to those diet changes.

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When to See a Doctor About Diarrhea and When to Wait for It …

When to See a Doctor About Diarrhea and When to Wait for It to PassHaving persistent diarrhea could also be a sign that a medication you’re on is upsetting your stomach or that something you’ve started eating regularly isn’t sitting well with you, Dr. Staller says. And, of course, long-lasting diarrhea could be a sign of one of the aforementioned conditions, like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome, although you’ll typically have other symptoms as well, which we’ll cover further down the list.2. You’re experiencing signs of dehydration.Diarrhea can cause dehydration because you’re losing so much liquid. In severe cases, dehydration can be life-threatening if it’s not treated, according to the Mayo Clinic. But even if you don’t pass that threshold, being dehydrated feels awful and can be treated.The biggest signs of dehydration to look out for: You’re incredibly thirsty, your skin and mouth are dry, you’re not peeing much or at all (plus your urine is a dark yellow color when you do actually pee), and you feel weak, dizzy, faint, or fatigued. If you have any of these signs along with your diarrhea, get to the emergency room, Dr. Farhadi says. You may need IV fluids to replace what you’ve lost.3. You’ve recently developed mouth sores.When this happens along with diarrhea, doctors generally think of Crohn’s disease, Dr. Staller says. In addition to causing diarrhea, the inflammation that comes with Crohn’s can create sores in your digestive tissue. “Crohn’s disease can affect anywhere in the GI tract, from the mouth down to the anus,” he explains. This is as opposed to ulcerative colitis, which is limited to your large intestine and rectum.This can also be a sign of celiac disease, a condition in which eating gluten leads to an immune response in your small intestine, according to the Mayo Clinic. You might be tempted to chalk up your mouth pain to something like a canker sore, but if you’re also dealing with diarrhea, you should see your doctor to make sure something larger isn’t going on.4. You have severe stomach or rectal pain.Severe stomach pain with diarrhea can signal many issues, from something as simple as gas to a potentially life-threatening condition like appendicitis, Christine Lee, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF.This could also be a sign of a more chronic condition like IBS-D (irritable bowel syndrome where diarrhea is the main symptom) or, again, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, Dr. Staller says. “Any diarrheal disease can cause pain,” he says, because diarrhea inflames and irritates the area. “The rectum has very sensitive nerves,” he adds.Unless you happen to be a gastroenterologist, it’s going to be really hard for you to tell what’s behind this pain + diarrhea equation on your own. If you’re experiencing diarrhea and a lot of pain, a visit to the doctor is in order.5. There’s pus in your diarrhea.Pus is a yellow-ish, mucus-y liquid your body produces when trying to fight infection, Dr. Staller says. “It’s a marker of inflammation,” he explains, adding that the inflammation is part of your body’s immune response to whatever it has deemed a threat.

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When to see your doctor about diarrhea – Geisinger

When to see your doctor about diarrhea If you can’t seem to get out of the bathroom because of diarrhea, you might be wondering what caused the problem, and when it’s time to seek the help of your doctor.  “There are a variety of potential causes of diarrhea,” said Geisinger gastroenterologist Seth Kaufer, D.O. “But, luckily, it almost always passes on its own within several days.” But if it doesn’t or you begin to notice more severe symptoms, you might have more questions.  Here’s what you need to know about the potential causes of diarrhea, and when you should see a doctor for treatment.  What causes diarrhea Most cases of diarrhea are caused by a virus that infects your gut, also known as the stomach flu. This can come from contaminated food or from germs passed by unwashed hands. “Foods become contaminated when they come into contact with animal feces, whether that is from the harvesting or fertilizing process,” said Dr. Kaufer. “You can also get it from physical contact with a surface or animal that might be contaminated.”  Beyond infections, you can experience diarrhea as a side effect of chronic digestive conditions like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis. It can also be caused by alcohol abuse, allergies, medications or issues with your thyroid.Symptoms, treatment and talking to your doctor With common stomach flus or a viral infection, you will likely find yourself struggling to regulate your bowel movements and spend a lot of time in the bathroom for two or three days. Many people will also experience nausea and bloating, as well as the possibility of dehydration.  “Any time you’re dealing with diarrhea, it’s important to stay hydrated because your body is losing so much water,” said Dr. Kaufer. “Dehydration is often more dangerous than the minor infection your body is fighting.”  If you are dehydrated, you will notice your urine is dark or you’re not urinating often, your heart rate rises, you get a headache or feel confused.  Staying hydrated by sipping on water or eating ice chips and eating simple foods like rice should calm your stomach once you’re able to eat again. In all, the ordeal should only last two or three days. If you notice symptoms after three days, you should contact your doctor.  You should also contact your doctor if you begin to notice new or worsening symptoms. Sometimes diarrhea is the result of a bacterial infection, which is often more serious than a viral infection and will require antibiotics. Common types of bacterial infections include Escherichia coli (E. coli) and salmonella, and those more serious symptoms include bloody or black stool, weight loss, severe cramping or fever.  Your doctor may order a blood or stool test to identify the cause of your symptoms, and may recommend a colonoscopy in extreme cases.  “Antibiotics are most commonly prescribed to clear up an infection, but your doctor may recommend fluid replacement treatments or an adjustment to any medications that might be causing the problem,” said Dr. Kaufer. Seth Kaufer, DO, is a gastroenterologist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. To schedule an appointment, call 800-275-6401.

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When Should I See a Doctor About Frequent Diarrhea?

When Should I See a Doctor About Frequent Diarrhea? posted: Feb. 02, 2022. Diarrhea might not be something you want to talk about; however, it happens to everyone. Whether it’s a stomach bug, something you ate, or a more serious and underlying digestive issue, it’s important to recognize when you should turn to a gastroenterologist for treatment. Causes of Diarrhea The most common cause of diarrhea is a viral infection that impacts the stomach. Some people call it “stomach flu” even though it’s not caused by influenza. Other causes of diarrhea include, Food allergiesAlcohol useIntestinal diseases such as Crohn’s diseaseBacterial infectionsDiabetesOveractive thyroidMedicationsRunning (known as “runner’s diarrhea”)Causes for Recurring DiarrheaIf you are dealing with loose stools for more than four weeks, then you are dealing with chronic diarrhea. Often, this is caused by an intestinal disorder such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you are dealing with chronic diarrhea you should see a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on. When to See a DoctorSince diarrhea can also lead to dehydration it’s important that you seek medical attention if you are also experiencing symptoms of dehydration. You should also call your gastroenterologist right away if you experience, Blood or mucus in the stoolBlack stoolsDiarrhea that lasts more than two daysA high fever (over 102 F) that last more than one daySevere abdominal painNausea and vomitingTreating DiarrheaA gastroenterologist will need to figure out what’s causing your diarrhea before providing you with treatment options. Mild diarrhea may be treated with over-the-counter options and making sure the patient stays hydrated. A gastroenterologist may need to perform stool sample testing or a colonoscopy to detect certain conditions such as intestinal disorders. Once a diagnosis has been made, your GI doctor can provide you with the proper lifestyle changes along with medications and other options. While diarrhea is often not a cause for concern if you do find yourself feeling concerned it’s always best to play it safe and call your gastroenterologist to find out whether you could benefit from a proper medical evaluation.

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Diarrhea | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Diarrhea Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) What is diarrhea? Diarrhea is when your stools are loose and watery. You may also need to go to the bathroom more often. Diarrhea is a common problem. It may last 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own. If diarrhea lasts more than 2 days it may mean you have a more serious problem. Diarrhea may be either: Short-term (acute). Diarrhea that lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away. This may be caused by having food or water that was made unsafe by a bacterial infection. Or it may happen if you get sick from a virus. Long-term (chronic). Diarrhea that lasts several weeks. This may be caused by another health problem such as irritable bowel syndrome. It can also be caused by an intestinal disease such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. Some infections such as parasites can cause chronic diarrhea. What causes diarrhea? Diarrhea may be caused by many things, including: A bacterial infection A virus Trouble digesting certain things (food intolerance) Food allergy (such as celiac disease, gluten allergy) Parasites that enter the body through food or water A reaction to medicines An intestinal disease, such as inflammatory bowel disease A problem with how your stomach and bowels work (functional bowel disorder), such as irritable bowel syndrome A result of surgery on the stomach or gall bladder Recent antibiotic use Metabolic conditions such as thyroid problems Other less common reasons such as damage from radiation treatments or tumors that make too many hormones Many people get traveler’s diarrhea. This happens when you have food or water that is not safe because of bacteria, parasites, and even food poisoning. Severe diarrhea may mean you have a serious disease. See your healthcare provider if your symptoms don’t go away or if they keep you from doing your daily activities. It may be hard to find out what is causing your diarrhea. What are the symptoms of diarrhea? Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms of diarrhea may include: Belly (abdominal) cramps Stomach pain Swelling (bloating) Upset stomach (nausea) Urgent need to go to the bathroom Fever Bloody stools Loss of body fluids (dehydration) Leaking stool and not being able to control your bowels (incontinence) Dehydration is a serious side effect of diarrhea. Symptoms include: Feeling thirsty Not urinating as often Having dry skin as well as a dry mouth and nostrils (mucous membranes) Feeling very tired Feeling that you may pass out or faint (lightheaded) Headaches Fast heart rate Sunken fontanelle (soft spot) on baby’s head Diarrhea symptoms may look like other health problems.  Bloody diarrhea is always a concern. Always see your doctor to be sure. Be sure to tell the doctor about any bleeding, fever, or vomiting. How is diarrhea diagnosed? To see if you have diarrhea, your healthcare provider will give you a physical exam and ask about your past health. You may also have lab tests to check your blood and urine. Other tests may include: Stool studies including culture and other tests. This test checks for any abnormal bacteria in your digestive tract that may cause diarrhea and other problems. To do this, a small stool sample is taken and sent to…

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After How Many Days of Diarrhea Should I See a Doctor?

After How Many Days of Diarrhea Should I See a Doctor? – San Francisco Gastroenterology | Bay Area & Marin County Being ill is one thing, but being ill and experiencing diarrhea is another. Diarrhea is a particularly unpleasant symptom of illness. It interrupts a person’s daily routine since it cannot be ignored. In certain situations, it can escalate into a serious medical situation. Almost everyone experiences diarrhea during their lifetime, but what if it persists? What if your diarrhea doesn’t let up when you expect it to? Or you start to feel increasingly worse? These are common enough concerns for adults, but are especially notable for parents whose children experience diarrhea. I have diarrhea – when should I see a doctor? For adults: If you are an adult, you are advised to seek medical attention if your diarrhea has persisted for more than two days. At this time, you risk dehydration, which is characterized by thirst, dry mouth and dry skin, lack of urination or dark urine, weakness, and/or dizziness. You should contact your doctor if you have a fever of more than 102F, if you experience abdominal or rectal pain or if your stool turns black or bloody. These symptoms all indicate severe diarrhea, and it is possible another underlying health issue is to blame and can be addressed by your provider. For children and babies: Diarrhea in children, particularly young children and babies, can lead to dehydration. Parents of younger children are advised to contact their child’s provider if symptoms do not improve after 24 hours, as opposed to the 48 hours recommended for adults. If your child experiences any of the following, in addition to diarrhea, you should call a provider immediately: Black or bloody stool Dry mouth or skin Crying without tears Fever of more than 102F Has not needed a diaper change in 3+ hours Is unresponsive, drowsy or very irritable (more than normal) Diarrhea has a long list of potential causes, but for most people, diarrhea will not last longer than a few hours to a day or so. However, for those individuals whose diarrhea persists or for children or babies with diarrhea, medical intervention may be required to avoid dehydration and to check if a serious health issue is present. If you have concerns about diarrhea, please contact SFGI to speak with one of our experienced gastroenterologists.

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