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Diarrhea Treatment Overview

Find the right care and learn about different treatments.
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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Mild, occasional bouts of diarrhea can often be treated at home.
  • OTC treatments like anti-diarrhea medications and fiber supplements can help relieve symptoms.
  • Drink fluids to stay hydrated.
See home treatments

When you may need a provider

  • You’ve had diarrhea for more than 24 hours.
  • You have other symptoms like severe abdominal pain or blood or mucus in the diarrhea.
See care providers

Emergency Care

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Go to the ER if you have signs of severe dehydration. These include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Urinating less frequently or not urinating at all
  • Not sweating
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

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All treatments for diarrhea
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Read more about diarrhea care options

When to see a healthcare provider

You should see a doctor if you’ve had diarrhea for more than 24 hours or you have additional symptoms like severe abdominal pain or blood or mucus in the diarrhea. Your doctor will check for chronic conditions that can cause diarrhea. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist, who specializes in digestive tract health, for testing and treatment.

Getting diagnosed

Your healthcare provider may recommend the following tests to look for the cause of your diarrhea.

  • Stool test to see if diarrhea is caused by bacteria or a parasite.
  • Blood test to look for chronic conditions.
  • If your provider thinks that you could have a chronic condition, they may recommend a lower endoscopy, where a thin, lighted tube is inserted into your rectum to look at your colon. To view your stomach and small intestine, they can do an upper endoscopy.

What to expect from your visit

Once the cause of your diarrhea is known, your doctor will recommend treatments.

  • Viral gastroenteritis, also known as the “stomach flu,” typically doesn’t require any treatments beyond drinking plenty of fluids.
  • For a bacterial infection from food poisoning, you may be prescribed antibiotics if the diarrhea lasts for more than a few days.
  • If your diarrhea is caused by a more chronic condition, your doctor will create a treatment plan or refer you to a gastroenterologist, who specializes in digestive tract health.
  • Some medications can cause diarrhea, like the diabetes medication metformin and antacids that contain magnesium. You may need to change your medication dose or timing, or switch to a different medication.

Prescription diarrhea medications

  • Antibiotics

Types of providers

  • A primary care provider can treat mild to moderate symptoms.
  • A gastroenterologist, who specializes in conditions that affect the digestive system, may be needed to treat chronic conditions.
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Frequently asked questions