Thursday, July 11, 2024

When To Call The Doctor For Diarrhea

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What Are The Complications Of Diarrhoea

Spitting Up Vs. Vomiting – When to Call your Doctor

Diarrhoea may cause dehydration. More fluids are lost from the body when you have diarrhoea than normally. Dehydration can lead to a loss of electrolytes minerals your body needs to function properly. This is why rehydration is so important.

Diarrhoea causes food to move quickly through your body. If this is ongoing it makes it difficult for you to absorb nutrients and can lead to malnutrition.

Some people may get temporary lactose intolerance after an episode of diarrhoea or gastroenteritis. See your doctor if the symptoms continue for more than a couple of weeks.

Moderate To Severe Diarrhea

With moderate to severe diarrhea, your child may need to drink an oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte® to help prevent dehydration. An ORS replaces the electrolytes and fluids that your child needs.

  • You can buy ORS in liquid or powder form or as popsicles at most pharmacies without a prescription. ORS store brands are just as good as a brand name.
  • Do not water down or mix an ORS with formula.
  • Offer your child other things to drink. ORS should not be the only fluid given for more than 6 hours.
  • If your child eats solid foods, give them more starchy foods like rice, cereal, and crackers. Do not give them red-colored foods that might look like blood in diarrhea.
  • Try to go back to a normal diet after one day. Do not use sports drinks and home remedies instead of ORS.

When To See A Doctor For Diarrhea

Everyone experiences diarrhea from time to time. It can be caused by eating undercooked food or simply overeating. Certain viral infections also can cause diarrhea, which can be serious in infants. Most of the time, you can safely provide diarrhea treatment at home. But in certain situations, such as chronic diarrhea or diarrhea with severe stomach pain or ongoing vomiting, you should seek medical attention.

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When Should I See My Doctor

“If your diarrhea hasn’t improved after five to seven days, or if you’re having high fevers, blood in your stool, or are becoming dehydrated, you should see your doctor,” says Dr. Genant. “Also, if your diarrhea keeps coming back, or you’ve had two weeks of fairly consistent symptoms, it’s probably time to see your doctor for further testing.”

Your doctor will likely perform tests to figure out what’s causing your diarrhea. Testing can tell you if you have a viral or bacterial infection. If those are ruled out, further testing may be needed to look for noninfectious causes, such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome or microcolitis. Once you know what’s causing your diarrhea, your doctor can help you plan a course of treatment to resolve your symptoms.

Worried about diarrhea?

When Should You Seek Urgent Care For Infant Diarrhea

Diarrhea in practice. Case 4

For diarrhea in infants, it is important to right away if your baby is under 3 months of age. For babies over 3 months, call your doctor if diarrhea persists over a 24-hour period. Additionally, seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms occur:

A fever reaching 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in newborns and babies under 6-months-old A temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in babies over 6 months-months-old Bloody or black poop Signs of dehydration, including dry mouth, a sudden stop in wet diapers that lasts for six hours or more, and crying without any tears

Diarrhea in babies is unpleasant to deal with but not difficult to resolve.

Take a look at the most common questions about newborns that pediatricians hear all the time, with answers.

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When Should You Seek Medical Care

Diarrhea can usually be treated with home care. In some cases, it may become more severe. A person should go to a hospital emergency department in the following situations:

  • If the person has the condition along with high fever, moderate-to-severe abdominal pain, or dehydration that cannot be managed by drinking fluids
  • If the diarrhea appears to contain blood
  • If the person is sleepy and is not acting like their usual selves
  • Vomiting and inability to tolerate any food or to keep liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration
  • High fever, significant abdominal pain, frequent loose bowel movements, or bloody diarrhea
  • If he or she is elderly or has serious underlying medical problems, particularly diabetes, heart, kidney, or liver disease, or HIV/AIDS
  • A parent or caregiver needs advice about preventing dehydration in newborns and infants
  • Symptoms do not improve in two to three days or appear to become worse
  • If he or she develops diarrhea after travel within their home country, or foreign travel or if a woman is pregnant

For cases of chronic diarrhea, your primary care provider may consult with a gastroenterologist .


When To Call The Doctor For Nausea Vomiting And Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are just plain miserable for most people. The concern with this combination isdehydration fluid loss. The key to treating vomiting and diarrhea is letting the stomach and bowel rest . Clear fluids taken in small amounts , may be all that is needed to avoid off dehydration.

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When Diarrhea Won’t Go Away

If 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 diarrhea
  • Whether your diarrhea comes and goes, or is continuous
  • If you think certain foods and situations make things better or worse
  • If your stool looks bloody, oily, fatty, or watery
  • Other symptoms you have and how long youâve had them
  • If you have a family history of chronic diarrhea
  • Places you’ve traveled to recently
  • Unusual foods you’ve tried in the last little while
  • Any medication or supplements you’re taking
  • If you’ve lost a lot of weight

Red Flag Signs Symptoms And History

How to Handle Explosive Diarrhea

There are certain signs and symptoms of diarrhea which can indicate to your doctor that something more serious may be going on and you may have an underlying health condition. A sign is something which can been seen by you or your doctor and a symptom is something that you feel, although this word is often used in a more general way by many people to describe anything associated with their illness.

If you have any of these red flags with your diarrhea symptoms then you should contact your health care practitioner:

  • Diarrhea with no pain
  • Weight loss but with a normal appetite
  • Blood when you open your bowels. This includes black tarry stools which indicates old blood and is in fact more worrying than fresh blood
  • Chronic diarrhea, especially if you are over the age of 45
  • Your bowel habits have changed in the last 3 months
  • You are very tired, possibly indicating anemia
  • You have a family history of bowel diseases
  • If diarrhea is regularly disturbing your sleep

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Children Younger Than 1 Year Of Age

  • Breast milk or formula mixed the normal way . Do not stop breastfeeding.
  • No water except when used to make formula
  • Do not give fruit juices or liquids that are high in sugar, such as Hawaiian Punch®, Hi-C®, Kool-Aid®, sodas or syrups. Do not give teas or broths. These liquids can make your child feel worse.

Causes Of Acute Diarrhea

Acute diarrhea often occurs due to a viral infection. These infections tend to clear up on their own within a few days.

When a person first experiences diarrhea, they may not know whether the condition will be acute, persistent, or chronic. People with diarrhea from an infection may experience additional symptoms, such as:

  • nausea and vomiting

We explore potential triggers for chronic diarrhea below.


Without treatment, certain bacterial and parasitic infections may cause chronic diarrhea.

Following an infection, people may experience problems digesting certain carbohydrates and proteins. This can prolong the duration of diarrhea.

Food allergies and intolerances

Chronic diarrhea can sometimes indicate an underlying food allergy or intolerance. Food intolerance is when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food. This may lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea.

Some common types of food intolerance include:

  • Lactose intolerance: Inability to properly digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products.
  • Fructose intolerance: When the body cannot properly digest fructose, a sugar in fruits, fruit juices, and honey.
  • Gluten intolerance: When a person has symptoms after eating gluten containing foods.

In addition to the above, some people may have difficulty breaking down types of sugar alcohol in some sugar-free products. Examples include:

Below are some remedies that may ease diarrhea and its associated symptoms.

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What Should I Eat And Drink

Again, the most important thing with diarrhea is to drink plenty of fluids. But, don’t try to drink 20 ounces of water all at one time, as that can make you feel worse. The best way to stay hydrated is to keep sipping on fluids throughout the day.

“If you’re at home watching TV, just sipping a tablespoon of water during every commercial break is probably enough to keep you hydrated,” explains Dr. Genant. “And if you’re struggling to eat, try adding in an electrolyte-rich beverage like Pedialyte or low-sugar Gatorade.”

When deciding what to eat when you have diarrhea, don’t push yourself to eat more than what’s comfortable. Avoid foods that can upset the gut further, such as greasy, fatty or spicy foods. Start with whole-grain foods that are easier to digest, like plain toast or oatmeal. You can advance your diet slowly by adding new foods over time.

What Complications Are Associated With Diarrhoea

What Is Travelers

Diarrhoea may cause dehydration. More fluids are lost from the body when you have diarrhoea than normally. Dehydration can lead to a loss of electrolytes minerals your body needs to function properly. This is why rehydration is so important.

Diarrhoea causes food to move quickly through your body. If this is ongoing it makes it difficult for you to absorb nutrients and can lead to malnutrition.

Some people may develop temporary lactose intolerance after an episode of diarrhoea or gastroenteritis. See your doctor if the symptoms continue for more than a couple of weeks.

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Causes For Recurring Diarrhea

If 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, Crohns disease, or irritable bowel syndrome . If you are dealing with chronic diarrhea you should see a gastroenterologist to find out whats going on.

How Do You Diagnose Diarrhea

For the majority of mild diarrhea cases, you wont need medical attention. These cases are self-limited and get better without medical intervention. The key to mild diarrhea is supportive therapy staying hydrated and eating a bland diet.

More serious cases of diarrhea may require medical attention. In these situations, there are a few diagnostic tests that your provider may order. These tests can include:

  • Discussing a detailed family history, as well as physical and medical conditions, your travel history, and any sick contacts you may have.
  • Doing a stool test on a collected stool sample to check for blood, bacterial infections, parasite and inflammatory markers.
  • Doing a breath test to check for lactose or fructose intolerance, and bacterial overgrowth.
  • Doing blood work to rule out medical causes of diarrhea such as a thyroid disorder, celiac sprue and pancreatic disorders.
  • Doing endoscopic evaluations of your upper and lower digestive tract to rule out organic abnormalities .

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The Disconnect Between Doctor And Patient

When it comes to expectations, there is a major communication chasm between doctors and patients. Patients want to be educated and reassured about their ailment, while some doctors misinterpret the patient’s expectation and think they want testing and treatments even if they may not be necessary. In a pure business model, what a patient wants and needs would be what they get, but medicine doesn’t work that way. Much of that disconnect has to do with experience on both sides of the equation.

The world has become a much smaller place, with families spread far and wide. The concept of many family generations living near each other has been replaced by opportunities to live and work almost anywhere around the world. Travel has become more reliable, and communication across thousands of miles is instantaneous. The need to live near relatives is no longer a necessity. The downside to this mobility is the loss of generational experience. When a child is ill and has a cough,vomits, or develops a fever, too often there isn’t a relative living close by to get a second opinion. Without that experience available to help with decision making, the parent or caregiver may call a nurse help-line, visit a health care practitioner to ask for advice, or search online for reliable information.

Education takes time, and a wise physician takes the time to listen to the patient, and answer questions that aren’t even asked. Some situations are universal.

When Should I Call My Doctor

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Severe diarrhea can be very dangerous or life-threatening. If you experience these symptoms, do not hesitate to call your doctor:

Youre Dehydrated

This ailment drains so much liquid from your body that you may experience dehydration. Dehydration is not just a normal thirst but your bodys way of telling you that youre desperately in need of fluids. You may even need someone to administer an IV to replenish your bodys diminished fluids.

Red flags that youre suffering from dehydration include:

  • Little or no urination.
  • Elevated heart rate.

You can take preventative measures when you have loose bowel movements, so your fluid levels dont become dangerously depleted. Continuously drink water and suck on ice chips. You can also drink clear liquids such as chicken broth, as well as electrolyte-rich drinks, and diluted, decaf tea.

Your Diarrhea Contains Pus

Pus is a jellylike discharge that indicates your body is battling inflammation. Your body naturally contains mucus that lines and protects the digestive tract. In a healthy digestive tract, it is clear and invisible.

However, if you see large amounts of yellow mucus in your loose stools, it could indicate a problem. If inflammation damages this layer of mucus, it provides infectious agents with the opportunity to weaken your digestive tract.

Diarrhea with pus may also indicate ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis sores can leak pus that exits when you defecate.

Bloody or Black Diarrhea

You Have Mouth Sores

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How Do You Treat Diarrhea

Most of the time, diarrhea will go away in a few days even without seeing a doctor. When treating diarrhea at home, it’s important to stay hydrated. “When you have diarrhea, you’re losing water and you’re also not absorbing fluids well,” explains primary care physician, Zachary J. Genant, MD. “Make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to avoid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.”

Signs you’re becoming dehydrated

  • Peeing less than four times per day
  • Pee that’s dark and concentrated
  • Inside of mouth feels dry and tacky
  • Shortness of breath when walking or racing heart after light activity
  • It can be especially hard to get young children to drink enough when they’re feeling sick. Keep track of how often they pee or how many wet diapers they have each day. Also, if they’re acting lethargic or you’re having trouble waking them up, it’s probably time to see a doctor.

    When Your Elderly Loved One Needs Medical Care For Diarrhea

    Diarrhea is the frequent passage of loose, watery, stools three or more times in one day. It can affect people of all ages. An episode usually lasts about one or two days, and, typically, goes away on its own. Seniors are no more susceptible to diarrhea than others, but may sometimes require medical care when afflicted. If you think thats the case with your elderly loved one, you should know that DispatchHealth provides medical care for non-life-threatening conditions thats far more private and convenient than an emergency room or urgent care clinic. We can come to your loved ones home to administer safe and effective diarrhea treatment that restores his or her comfort and allows a confident return to daily life.

    If this is an emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

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    When Should You Call For Help

    anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

    • You passed out .
    • Your stools are maroon or very bloody.

    or seek immediate medical care if:

    • You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
    • Your stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.
    • You have new or worse belly pain.
    • You have symptoms of dehydration, such as:
    • Dry eyes and a dry mouth.
    • Passing only a little urine.
    • Cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have a new or higher fever.
  • Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

    • Your diarrhea is getting worse.
    • You see pus in the diarrhea.
    • You are not getting better after 2 days .

    Common Causes Of Diarrhea

    Headache Fever Chills Diarrhea

    The digestive system can become upset for a variety of reasons. Sometimes just eating too many rich foodsthose containing animal fat, butter, cream, sugar, oil and the likecan give you diarrhea. Other times, a virus or bacterium causes the loose stools.

    The most common causes of diarrhea include:

    • Bacteria in undercooked or mishandled food, or in contaminated water

    • Parasites in contaminated water or food

    • Viruses, especially rotavirus which causes most cases of acute diarrhea in infants and children

    • Conditions or diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohns disease

    • Digestive intolerance of proteins, sugars or other compounds found in foods, such as lactose intolerance

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