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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Diarrhea is chronic when it occurs 3 or more times a day for more than 4 weeks.
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.
- 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 may help your symptoms. These include bananas, boiled potatoes, cooked carrots, cooked chicken, plain rice, and toast. You can also try yogurt and applesauce. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you increase the amount of fiber you eat. Fiber can add bulk to your bowel movements.
- Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration. You may 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.
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Germ-killing hand gel is available if you are not near water. 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.