When to See Your Healthcare ProviderNot everyone with diarrhea needs to see a healthcare provider. However, there are situations when it does make sense.
You should see your healthcare provider if any of the following is true:
- You have had diarrhea for more than three days
- You have severe pain in the abdomen or rectum
- You have a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- You see blood in your stool or have black, tarry stools
- You have signs of dehydration (see below).
If your child has diarrhea, do not hesitate to call the healthcare provider for advice. Diarrhea can be dangerous in children if too much fluid is lost and not replaced quickly. Take your child to the doctor if any of the following symptoms appear (This is especially important if your child is six months old or younger.):
- Stools containing blood, mucus, or pus
- Watery diarrhea with repeated vomiting
- Temperature above 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- No improvement after 24 hours
- Signs of dehydration:
- No wet diapers for more than three hours
- Lack of tears when crying
- Lack of energy
- Frequent crying or irritability
- Sunken abdomen, eyes, or cheeks
- Listlessness or irritability
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Skin that does not flatten when pinched and released.
In most cases, the only acute diarrhea treatment necessary is replacing lost fluid to prevent dehydration until symptoms improve. In some cases, medicine may be recommended. Chronic diarrhea is more challenging to treat. Depending on the cause, treatment may involve medications, such as antibiotics, or lifestyle and diet changes. Similar to acute diarrhea, chronic diarrhea treatment also involves replacing fluid and electrolytes.
(Click Diarrhea Treatment for more information on treatment options.)