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Diarrhea in Children

How Long Does Diarrhea Last in Children?

The length of time that diarrhea will depend on what is causing it. When children with healthy immune systems develop diarrhea that is caused by an infection, the body is usually able to effectively kill the pathogens, and after 1 to 10 days, diarrhea symptoms generally start to improve.

Transmission and Prevention

The viruses and bacteria that can cause diarrhea in children are highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person. The viruses that cause diarrhea are often found in the stool or vomit of infected people. Transmission can happen in one of several ways, including:
  • Eating foods or drinking liquids that are contaminated with a virus or bacteria that causes diarrhea
  • Having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with the illness, or sharing food or eating utensils with someone who is ill)
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with a virus and putting one's hands in one's mouth.
Children can spread diarrhea both before and after they become sick. They can sometimes pass the virus to other members of the family and to close contacts.
While it is important that you wash your child's hands (as well as your own), better hygiene and sanitation have not significantly reduced incidents of certain types of diarrhea outbreaks, such as rotavirus disease. A new, recently licensed vaccine (RotaTeq®) is the best way to protect your child against rotavirus disease.
(Click Rotavirus Prevention or Rotavirus Vaccine for more information.)
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Diarrhea Information

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