If you have severe diarrhea and you’re not sure what’s causing it, consult your physician as soon as possible.
In some cases, diarrhea is a sign of a serious underlying condition. So it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you have severe diarrhea that:
- Occurs after you’ve had an antibiotic or other medication
- Lasts several days or more
- Causes blood in your stool
- Affects your appetite or ability to eat
Diarrhea can also indicate that there’s an underlying infection. It can be a symptom of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and bacterial or parasitic infections. You should see your doctor to be sure.
Diarrhea after antibiotic treatment
If you’ve been recently treated with antibiotics, you might experience diarrhea as a side effect. In this case, you should see your doctor right away.
Diarrhea after antibiotic use is more likely to be a symptom of a medication side effect than a sign of an infection.
If you have diarrhea after you’ve been prescribed antibiotics, you might do better by stopping the medication and waiting to see if your symptoms disappear. If you don’t have diarrhea after taking antibiotics, your symptoms should clear up within a few days.
If your symptoms don’t improve after a few days, make an appointment with your doctor.
Diarrhea after hospitalization
If you’re hospitalized, you may experience diarrhea as a side effect of certain types of medication you’re given during your stay.
If you don’t have diarrhea after you leave the hospital, you might be better off continuing to take the medication you were given.
Diarrhea after food poisoning
Food poisoning is a type of diarrhea that results when food containing harmful bacteria enters your digestive tract.
While you may experience pain and nausea after eating contaminated food, it’s uncommon for you to have bloody diarrhea.
Diarrhea and the flu
You might experience diarrhea as a symptom of the flu. The flu is a viral infection that can cause mild to moderate aches and pains.
The flu can also cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Body aches
If you have diarrhea after you’ve been exposed to the flu, you should see your doctor.
Diarrhea from other causes
When you have diarrhea that’s not caused by a virus, it’s usually not serious. But if it lasts for several days or more, it may indicate a serious condition.
Diarrhea that lasts more than two weeks is cause for concern.
Diarrhea with fever is a symptom of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) chlamydia.
It can also occur as a symptom of an intestinal infection.
If you have diarrhea with fever and additional symptoms, you should see your doctor.
How to treat diarrhea?
If you’re experiencing diarrhea, you should see your doctor immediately.
The type of treatment you need depends on the cause of your diarrhea.
For example, if you’re experiencing diarrhea as a symptom of an infection, you’ll need to take medication to relieve your symptoms. Be sure to follow the instructions on the medication’s packaging.
In some cases, diarrhea is a symptom of an underlying condition. In this case, you can treat the underlying condition.
If your diarrhea is caused by a medication you’ve been prescribed, you’ll need to take it as directed.
It’s important to stick to your treatment plan, even if you begin to feel better. If you don’t, your symptoms could return.
If you’re experiencing diarrhea as a symptom of a medication side effect, you should stop taking the medication and see your doctor.
Medications for diarrhea
The following are some medications that may relieve diarrhea caused by:
- Infections. Antibiotics are the most common treatment for infections.
- Medications. Antidiarrheal medications such as loperamide (Imodium) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may help relieve diarrhea caused by medications.
- Food poisoning. Antibiotics and antidiarrheal medications may help relieve diarrhea caused by food poisoning.
- Pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, taking antibiotics and antidiarrheal medications to relieve diarrhea may help prevent excess weight gain.
- Lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a common cause of diarrhea.
- Dehydration. Dehydration is the most common cause of diarrhea in children.
If your diarrhea is caused by a medication, your doctor may prescribe a medication to help reduce symptoms.
It’s important to follow the instructions on the label of the medication you take. You should talk with your doctor about possible side effects and how to manage them.
How to prevent diarrhea?
There are several steps you can take to prevent diarrhea:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Stay active.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle.
If you frequently experience diarrhea as a symptom of an infection, you can help prevent future infections by making certain lifestyle changes.
- Eating a well-balanced diet.
- Staying active.
- Drinking plenty of fluids.
- Getting enough sleep.
When to see a doctor?
If you’re experiencing diarrhea as a symptom of an infection, you should see your doctor.
While the symptoms of an infection are usually mild, you should seek treatment to prevent complications.
If your diarrhea is caused by a medication, you should take it as directed.
Diarrhea that lasts for more than two weeks warrants a visit to your doctor.
What’s the outlook for diarrhea?
It’s possible to prevent diarrhea by making certain lifestyle changes.
If you’re experiencing bouts of diarrhea as a symptom of an infection, you should see your doctor. They can help you determine the cause and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
If your diarrhea isn’t caused by an infection, it’s generally not serious. But in some cases, it can be a symptom of an underlying condition.
Diarrhea can be a symptom of a number of conditions. If you have diarrhea, see your doctor to be sure.
The type of diarrhea you experience can provide insight into the cause of your symptoms.
See your doctor right away if you notice that diarrhea is causing you discomfort
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