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First Aid & Emergencies

Diarrhea Treatment

Call 911 if the person or child: 

  • Is very dehydrated
  • Has severe abdominal pain
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  • Is very dehydrated
  • Has severe abdominal pain

Treating Dehydration

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 3-5 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 right away if you suspect that you or your child is dehydrated.
    • Call right away if an infant 3 months old or younger has vomiting or diarrhea.
    • If you think the person needs over-the-counter diarrhea medication; some kinds of diarrhea can get worse with anti-diarrheal medications.
    • If you think the person has traveler’s diarrhea or drank contaminated water
    • If the person is taking an antibiotic that may be causing the diarrhea
    • If there is blood or mucus in the stool, or the stool is black.
    • For any stomach pain that is not relieved by having a bowel movement
    • If there is any fever.
    • If the person is losing more fluid in his stool than he can replace by drinking fluids

 

Follow-Up

Also seek medical attention if:

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

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 15, 2013

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