Diarrhea is when you pass loose or watery stool.
In some people, diarrhea is mild and goes away in a few days. In other people, it may last longer.
Diarrhea can make you feel weak and dehydrated.
Diarrhea in children can be serious. It needs to be treated differently than you would treat diarrhea in adults.
The most common cause of diarrhea is the stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis). This mild viral infection most often goes away on its own within a few days.
Eating or drinking food or water that contains certain types of bacteria or parasites can also lead to diarrhea. This problem may be called food poisoning.
Certain medicines may also cause diarrhea, including:
Diarrhea may also be caused by medical disorders, such as:
Less common causes of diarrhea include:
People who travel to developing countries can get diarrhea from unclean water or food that has not been handled safely. Plan ahead by learning the risks and treatment for traveler's diarrhea before your trip.
Most times, you can treat diarrhea at home. You will need to learn:
Avoid medicines for diarrhea that you can buy without a prescription, unless your provider tells you to use them. These drugs can make some infections worse.
If you have a long-term form of diarrhea, such as diarrhea caused by irritable bowel syndrome, changes to your diet and lifestyle may help.
Call your provider right away if you or your child shows signs of dehydration:
Call for an appointment with your provider if you have:
Also call your provider if:
The diarrhea gets worse or does not get better in 2 days for an infant or child, or 5 days for adults
Stools - watery; Frequent bowel movements; Loose bowel movements