• What to do if you have diarrhoea

    Diarrhoea is passing looser or more frequent stools than is normal for you.

    It affects most people from time to time and is usually nothing to worry about. However, it can be distressing and unpleasant until it passes, which normally takes a few days to a week.


    What to do if you have diarrhoea

    Most cases of diarrhoea clear up after a few days without treatment, and you may not need to see your GP.

    • However, diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, so you should drink plenty of fluids – small, frequent sips of water – until it passes. It’s very important that babies and small children do not become dehydrated.
    • Your pharmacist may suggest you use an oral rehydration solution (ORS) if you or your child are particularly at risk of dehydration.
    • You should eat solid food as soon as you feel able to. If you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby and they have diarrhoea, you should try to feed them as normal.
    • Stay at home until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea to prevent spreading any infection to others.

    Medications to reduce diarrhoea, such as loperamide, are available. However, these are not usually necessary, and most types should not be given to children.

    When to see your GP

    Contact your GP for advice if you’re concerned about yourself or your child.

    It’s important to see your GP if the diarrhoea is particularly frequent or severe, or associated with other symptoms, such as:

    • blood in your or your child’s stool
    • persistent vomiting
    • a severe or continuous stomach ache
    • weight loss

    Signs of dehydration –

    • includes drowsiness, passing urine infrequently, and feeling lightheaded or dizzy
    • your stool is dark or black – this may be a sign of bleeding inside your stomach

    You should also contact your GP if your or your child’s diarrhoea is particularly persistent, as this may be a sign of a more serious problem. In most cases, diarrhoea should pass within about a week.

    Preventing diarrhoea

    Diarrhoea is often caused by an infection. You can reduce your risk by making sure you maintain high standards of hygiene.

    For example, you should:

    • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food
    • clean the toilet, including the handle and the seat, with disinfectant after each bout of diarrhoea
    • avoid sharing towels, flannels, cutlery, or utensils with other household members

    It’s also important to practise good food and water hygiene while travelling abroad, such as avoiding potentially unsafe tap water and undercooked food.

    Source: nhs inform

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