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Diarrhoea is your body’s way of dealing with disruptions in your gastrointestinal system. The most important thing is to have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. Read on for more information about the condition and your treatment options...

What is diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can be of sudden onset and lasting for less than four weeks (acute) or persistent (chronic). In most cases, diarrhoea eases and goes within several days but sometimes takes longer. The main risk is lack of fluid in the body causing dehydration. It is advised to drink plenty of fresh water at regular intervals. Try to eat as normally as possible.

Infection of the gut is a common cause of diarrhoea. This is of sudden onset and is called acute infectious diarrhoea. Acute diarrhea lasts less than 2 weeks and can come from many sources, such as:

  • a viral infection
  • a bacterial infection
  • food poisoning
  • recent antibiotic use
  • water contaminated with an infectious agent

Other causes are uncommon and include drinking lots of beer, side-effects from some medicines and anxiety. Gut disorders that cause persistent (chronic) diarrhoea may be mistaken for acute diarrhoea when they first begin - for example, diarrhoea caused by ulcerative colitis.

Should I seek medical advice?

Before seeking medical advice, please try to adhere to the following guidance:

  • stay at home and get plenty of rest
  • drink lots of fluids, such as water or squash – take small sips if you feel sick
  • carry on breast or bottle feeding your baby – if they’re being sick, try giving small feeds more often than usual
  • give babies on formula or solid foods small sips of water between feeds
  • eat when you feel able to – you don’t need to eat or avoid any specific foods
  • take paracetamol if you’re in discomfort – check the leaflet before giving it to your child

Next steps…

There is no specific treatment for diarrhoea, but we do offer a wide range of remedies that can reduce symptoms. If you are suffering from diarrhoea, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by booking a free telephone consultation with one of our experienced pharmacists for advice and support.

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