Diarrhea is loose, watery stools (bowel movements). You have diarrhea if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. Acute diarrhea lasts a short time. It is a common problem. It usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer. Then it goes away on its own.
Diarrhea lasting more than a few days may be a sign of a more serious problem. Chronic diarrhea—diarrhea that lasts at least four weeks—can be a symptom of a chronic disease. Chronic diarrhea symptoms may be continual, or they may come and go.
Other possible symptoms of diarrhea can include cramps or pain in the abdomen, an urgent need to use the bathroom, and loss of bowel control. If a virus or bacteria is the cause of your diarrhea, you may also have a fever, chills, and bloody stools.
Diarrhea is quite common and can be caused by viruses, bacteria, contaminated food and water, parasites, medicines, food intolerances, and any number of illnesses.
If you get diarrhea, drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. This is especially important for young children or adults with chronic illnesses.
Diarrhea is treated by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Depending on the cause of the problem, you may need medicines to stop the diarrhea or treat an infection.
If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms now, see a Mercyhealth health care provider at Virtual Visit Now.
Mercyhealth Virtual Visit Now gives you remote access to the best of health care from your phone, tablet or computer. Our Virtual Visit Now team can help you feel better from the comfort of your own home. After assessing your symptoms, they’ll recommend treatments that can include simple comfort measures, prescription medicine or an office visit.
Virtual Visit Now is not available for emergency care. If you need emergency care, please call 911.