Skip to content

    First Aid & Emergencies

    Font Size

    Diarrhea Treatment

    Call 911 if the person or child: 

    • Is very dehydrated
    • Has severe abdominal pain

    Treating Dehydration

    1. Take Fluids

    • Ask your doctor what fluids are best for you or your child. Here are some basic tips:
      1. Give an adult plenty of clear fluid, like fruit juices, soda, sports drinks and clear broth. Avoid milk or milk-based products, alcohol, apple juice, and caffeine while you have diarrhea and for 3 to 5 days after you get better. They may make diarrhea worse.
      2. Give a child or infant frequent sips of a rehydration solution such as Pedialyte, CeraLyte, or Infalyte. Do not add salt tablets to a baby’s bottle.
      3. Make sure the person drinks more fluids than they are losing through diarrhea. If they are unable to keep up with their losses, call a doctor.

    2. Rest

    • Have the person rest as needed and avoid strenuous exercise. Keep a sick child home from school or day care.

    3. Ease Into Eating

    • Feed an infant or child easily digested foods; the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) is a good choice as soon as they can tolerate food.
    • For an adult, add semisolid and low-fiber foods gradually as diarrhea stops. Avoid spicy, greasy, or fatty foods.

    3. When to Call a Doctor

    • Call a doctor right away if:
      • You suspect that you or your child is dehydrated.
      • An infant 3 months old or younger has vomiting or diarrhea.
      • There is blood or mucus in the stool, or the stool is black.
      • You think the person needs over-the-counter diarrhea medication; some kinds of diarrhea can get worse with anti-diarrheal medications.
      • You think the person has traveler’s diarrhea or drank contaminated water.
      • The person is taking an antibiotic that may be causing the diarrhea.
      • There is stomach pain that is not relieved by having a bowel movement.
      • There is any fever.
      • The person is losing more fluid in his stool than he can replace by drinking fluids.


    Also seek medical attention if:

    • You or your child has any other medical problems and has diarrhea.
    • Diarrhea in an adult worsens or doesn’t clear up after 2 or 3 days
    • A child doesn’t feel better after 24 hours

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 08, 2015

    First Aid A-Z

    • There are no topics that begin with 'O'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Q'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'U'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'X'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Y'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Z'

    Today on WebMD

    blue flames
    The right way to treat them.
    Wound paste into a cross
    8 essentials for car or purse.
    cpr demonstration
    4 steps for adults.
    bagged salad
    Learn when to call a doctor.
    sniffling child
    wound care true or false
    caring for wounds
    Harvest mite

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    WebMD the app

    Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

    Find Out More