When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most cases of diarrhea resolve without treatment. However, severe diarrhea can cause dehydration, which can be life-threatening if untreated. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems.

Seek medical attention for your child if:

  • Diarrhea doesn't improve after 24 hours
  • Hasn't had a wet diaper in three or more hours
  • Has a fever of more than 102 F (39 C)
  • Has bloody or black stools
  • Has a dry mouth or tongue 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

Schedule a doctor's visit for yourself if:

  • Your diarrhea lasts more than two days without improvement
  • You become dehydrated — indicated 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 of more than 102 F (39 C)
April 16, 2019

See also

  1. 10 signs you might have amyloidosis
  2. 7 signs of endometriosis
  3. Addison's disease
  4. Adrenal fatigue: What causes it?
  5. Agoraphobia
  6. Amyloidosis
  7. Amyloidosis: Am I at risk?
  8. Amyloidosis: How do I cope?
  9. Anaphylaxis
  10. Anthrax
  11. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  12. Appendicitis
  13. Ascariasis
  14. AskMayoMom Pediatric Urology
  15. Aspirin allergy
  16. Bee sting
  17. Behcet's disease
  18. Bird flu (avian influenza)
  19. Blastocystis hominis
  20. Blind loop syndrome
  21. Giant Cell Myocarditis
  22. C. difficile infection
  23. Infertility and endometriosis
  24. Can I still experience endometriosis after menopause?
  25. Carcinoid syndrome
  26. Carcinoid tumors
  27. Celiac disease
  28. Celiac disease: Can gluten be absorbed through the skin?
  29. Celiac disease diet: How do I get enough grains?
  30. Chagas disease
  31. Cholera
  32. Churg-Strauss syndrome
  33. Colon cancer
  34. Colon Cancer Family Registry
  35. Colon cancer screening: At what age can you stop?
  36. Colon cancer screening
  37. Colon polyps
  38. Coping with endometriosis pain
  39. Crohn's Crisis
  40. Crohn's disease
  41. Crohn’s disease: Can prebiotics help?
  42. Crohn's disease symptom: Is fatigue common?
  43. Crohn's or Colitis
  44. Cryptosporidium infection
  45. Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  46. Cyclospora infection
  47. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
  48. Day-to-day with endometriosis: Challenge your expectations
  49. Diabetes insipidus
  50. Diabetic neuropathy
  51. Diabetic neuropathy and dietary supplements
  52. Types of diabetic neuropathy
  53. Diverticulitis
  54. Does smoking have an effect on Crohn's disease?
  55. Drug allergy
  56. E. coli
  57. Ear infection (middle ear)
  58. Ear infection treatment: Do alternative therapies work?
  59. Early HIV symptoms: What are they?
  60. Ease the pain of diabetic neuropathy
  61. Eating well when you have Crohn's disease
  62. Ebola transmission: Can Ebola spread through the air?
  63. Ebola virus and Marburg virus
  64. Ehrlichiosis
  65. Endometriosis
  66. Endometriosis risk factors
  67. Endometriosis: Risk factor for ovarian cancer?
  68. Endometriosis: Treatment options
  69. Testing for endometriosis
  70. Fecal incontinence
  71. Finding balance: Tips to manage life with endometriosis
  72. Flu masks
  73. Flu vaccine: Safe for people with egg allergy?
  74. Food poisoning
  75. Gastroenteritis: First aid
  76. GI Stents
  77. Giardia infection (giardiasis)
  78. Global Bridges
  79. Graves' dermopathy: How is it treated?
  80. Graves' disease
  81. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
  82. Hirschsprung's disease
  83. HIV/AIDS
  84. Hunter syndrome
  85. IBD and colon cancer: How often do you need screening?
  86. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  87. Infographic: Innovative Rectal Cancer Treatments
  88. Intestinal ischemia
  89. Intestinal obstruction
  90. Intussusception
  91. Irritable bowel syndrome
  92. Ischemic colitis
  93. Jet lag disorder
  94. Kawasaki disease
  95. Lactose intolerance
  96. Legionnaires' disease
  97. Listeria infection
  98. Living better with endometriosis
  99. Living well with Crohn's disease
  100. Malaria
  101. Managing diabetic neuropathy complications
  102. Managing your self-esteem when you have endometriosis
  103. Mayo Clinic Minute: Avoiding summer E. coli infection
  104. Mayo Clinic Minute: What you need to know about polyps in your colon
  105. Mesenteric lymphadenitis
  106. Milk allergy
  107. Myocarditis
  108. Nicotine dependence
  109. Norovirus infection
  110. He's the bravest kid I've ever seen
  111. Living with an ostomy
  112. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
  113. Peanut allergy
  114. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  115. Peritonitis
  116. Plague
  117. Porphyria
  118. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  119. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  120. PrEP to prevent HIV
  121. Preterm labor
  122. Primary biliary cholangitis
  123. Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  124. Proctitis
  125. Pseudomembranous colitis
  126. Q fever
  127. Radiation sickness
  128. Rectal cancer
  129. Endometriosis: Reduce pain during sex
  130. Resources to help you live well with Crohn's disease
  131. Reye's syndrome
  132. Roseola
  133. Rotavirus
  134. Salt craving: A symptom of Addison's disease?
  135. Self-care for the flu
  136. Serotonin syndrome
  137. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  138. Shellfish allergy
  139. Shigella infection
  140. Sleep disrupted by endometriosis? Try these tips
  141. Smallpox
  142. Smoking and rheumatoid arthritis: What's the risk?
  143. Social anxiety disorder
  144. Spastic colon: What does it mean?
  145. Staying active with Crohn's disease
  146. Sulfa allergy
  147. Swine flu (H1N1 flu)
  148. Tapeworm infection
  149. Tips for easing stress when you have Crohn's disease
  150. Toxic shock syndrome
  151. Trichinosis
  152. Tularemia
  153. Typhoid fever
  154. Ulcerative colitis
  155. Ulcerative colitis flare-ups: 5 tips to manage them
  156. Understanding amyloidosis
  157. Understanding your amyloidosis treatment options
  158. Vesicoureteral reflux
  159. How irritable bowel syndrome affects you
  160. Vitamin deficiency anemia
  161. What causes endometriosis? Theories about how endo starts
  162. What is amyloidosis?
  163. What is MERS-CoV?
  164. What's the difference between H1N1 flu and influenza A?
  165. Wheat allergy
  166. Whipple's disease
  167. Working with your doctor when you have amyloidosis
  168. Endometriosis: Working with your doctor
  169. Fecal transplant treatment of C. difficile at Mayo Clinic
  170. Mayo Clinic study reporting increased incidence of C. difficile infection
  171. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome