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)
June 16, 2020

See also

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