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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Diarrhea is chronic when it lasts more than 4 weeks. You may have 3 or more episodes of diarrhea each day.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your skin, mouth, and tongue are dry, and you feel very thirsty.
- You have blood or pus in your bowel movement.
- You have trouble eating, drinking, or keeping food down.
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- You feel lightheaded, weak, or you faint.
- Your heart beats faster than normal or you have trouble breathing.
- You are confused or cannot think clearly.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have new symptoms.
- Your symptoms do not improve, or they get worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- You may be given medicine to slow your diarrhea, or treat an infection. You may also be given medicines to decrease inflammation in your intestines.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Drink more liquids to replace body fluids lost through diarrhea. You may also need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of sugar, salt, and minerals in water to replace body fluids. ORS can be found at most grocery stores or pharmacies. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Do not drink liquids with caffeine or alcohol. These can increase your risk for dehydration.
- Do not drink or eat foods that may make your symptoms worse. These include milk and dairy products, greasy and fatty foods, spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. Keep a food diary to see if your symptoms are caused by certain foods. Bring this to your follow-up visits.
- Eat foods that are easy to digest. These include bananas, boiled potatoes, cooked carrots, cooked chicken, plain rice, and toast. You can also try yogurt and applesauce.
- Wash your hands often. Germs on your hands can get into your mouth and cause diarrhea. Use soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.