Because it typically resolves without any treatment, most people don’t think twice when they have diarrhea. However, severe diarrhea can cause a myriad of other issues, including dehydration. Diarrhea is most dangerous for children, the elderly and those who already have a weak immune system. Knowing when to seek medical help for diarrhea is essential to recovering quickly before things become severe.
Diarrhea in Children
Because children are already more susceptible to suffering complications from diarrhea, they should be seen by a doctor if it lasts longer than 24 hours. If your child also suffers from a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, has blood or black stools and has not had at least three wet diapers in a 24-hour time span, you should also take them to a doctor immediately.
Diarrhea in Adults
Typically, diarrhea in adults is more likely to resolve on its own. If your diarrhea lasts more than two days, however, you should visit a doctor. Signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, dizziness, excessive thirst and lack of urination, are also an indication you should see a doctor. If you have a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, have severe abdominal pain or have bloody or black stools, you should also seek medical care as soon as possible.
If you are suffering from diarrhea, but don’t believe it’s serious enough to seek medical treatment, it’s important to take frequent small sips of water. You should also take small bites of saltine crackers. As soon as you start feeling better, you may begin eating mild foods, but it’s advised that you avoid spicy foods, fruits and caffeine for at least two days after symptoms have dissipated. For children, treatment should include oral rehydration solutions like Pedialyte, increased carbohydrates in the diet and supplementation with probiotics.
If you or your child is suffering from severe diarrhea, consider seeking medical attention at Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have kid-friendly physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.