Diarrhoea in adults and older children
is unpleasant but rarely dangerous. It may be caused by eating
contaminated food with bacteria or viruses. For example, food which
has not been properly cooked, of has been kept uncovered for some
time. It may also be caused by a sudden change in diet, or drinking
too much alcohol. Diarrhoea usually begins to get better within 48
hours. You can help yourself to get better more quickly:
- Do not eat, or eat
only very small amounts of plain food (toast or plain biscuits) for
- Drink plenty of clear fluids until your stomach has settled. It is
important to drink enough to replace the fluid you are loosing down
the toilet! Clear fluids mean water, squash or herbal teas. Milk, tea
and coffee make the diarrhoea worse so avoid them until you are
When to see
Babies with sudden bouts of watery diarrhoea which lasts 24 hours or
more, or which is associated with vomiting, fever or drowsiness should
be taken to see the doctor urgently.
Anyone with bloody
diarrhoea should consult their doctor in the next few days.
If the diarrhoea is
accompanied by sever stomach pains not relieved by going to the
toilet, or if the patient is unable to keep fluids down because of
severe vomiting, the doctor should be consulted.
The elderly who
experience repeated attacks of diarrhoea should see their doctor.
People returning from
exotic foreign countries should get along to their doctor.