Going to the toilet too often? Worried you might have Diarrhoea? Not quite sure what to do? Let us help.

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What is Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is passing looser or more frequent stools than is normal for you. It affects most people from time to time and is usually nothing to worry about. However, it can be distressing and unpleasant until it passes, which normally takes a few days to a week in adults and children.Sometimes, it can be accompanied by vomiting – you can have them together or on their own.

Associated symptoms can include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

The excessive loss of water in your poo can also sometimes lead to dehydration, which can be serious if it’s not recognised and treated quickly.

 

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You can reduce your risk by making sure you maintain high standards of hygiene. For example, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food.

Causes

There are many different causes of diarrhoea, but a bowel infection (gastroenteritis) is a common cause in both adults and children.

Gastroenteritis can be caused by:

  • virus – such as norovirus or rotavirus
  • Bacteria – such as campylobacter and Escherichia coli (E. coli), which are often picked up from contaminated food 
  • parasite – such as the parasite that causes giardiasis, which is spread in contaminated water

These infections can sometimes be caught during travel abroad, particularly to areas with poor standards of public hygiene. This is known as travellers’ diarrhoea.

Diarrhoea can also be the result of anxiety, a food allergy, medication, or a long-term condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Treatment

Most cases of diarrhoea clear up after a few days without treatment, and you may not need to see your GP. There are some things you can to help speed up the process of feeling better:

  • You should drink plenty of fluids – small, frequent sips of water – until diarrhoea passes. It’s very important that babies and small children do not become dehydrated.
  • Your pharmacist may suggest you use an oral rehydration solution (ORS) if you or your child are particularly at risk of dehydration.
  • You should eat solid food as soon as you feel able to. If you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby and they have diarrhoea, you should try to feed them as normal.
  • Stay at home until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea to prevent spreading any infection to others.

 

 

When should you see a GP?

It’s important to see your GP if the diarrhoea is particularly frequent or severe, or associated with other symptoms, such as:

  • Blood in your or your child’s stool
  • Persistent vomiting
  • A severe or continuous stomach ache
  • Weight loss
  • Signs of dehydration – including drowsiness, passing urine infrequently, and feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Your stool is dark or black – this may be a sign of bleeding inside your stomach

You should also see a GP if you or your child’s diarrhoea is particularly persistent, as this may be a sign of a more serious problem. 

 

 

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