Signs and symptoms associated with diarrhea may include:
- Frequent, loose, watery stools
- Abdominal cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
When to see a doctor
If you're an adult, see your doctor if:
- Your diarrhea persists beyond two days
- You become dehydrated — as evidenced by excessive thirst, dry mouth or skin, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness, or dark-colored urine
- You have severe abdominal or rectal pain
- You have bloody or black stools
- You have a fever above 102 F (39 C)
In children, particularly young children, diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration. Call your doctor if your child's diarrhea doesn't improve within 24 hours or if your baby:
June 11, 2013
- Hasn't had a wet diaper in three or more hours
- Has a fever above 102 F (39 C)
- Has bloody or black stools
- Has a dry mouth or cries without tears
- Is unusually sleepy, drowsy, unresponsive or irritable
- Has a sunken appearance to the abdomen, eyes or cheeks
- Has skin that doesn't flatten if pinched and released
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Understanding food allergies and intolerances. American Gastroenterological Association. http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/diet-medications/food-allergies-fructose-intolerance-and-lactose-intolerance. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Ochoa B, et al. Diarrheal diseases — acute and chronic. American College of Gastroenterology. http://patients.gi.org/topics/diarrhea-acute-and-chronic/#tabs2. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Nutrition therapy for diarrhea. ADA Nutrition Care Manual. http://nutritioncaremanual.org/index.cfm. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Sartor RB. Probiotics for gastrointestinal diseases. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Wash your hands. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HandWashing. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Basics for handling food safely. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Basics_for_Handling_Food_Safely/index.asp. Accessed May 7, 2013.