Diarrhea ConcernsFor Parents

When is Diarrhea Dangerous?

By December 4, 2019 No Comments
young woman holding hot water bottle in hurting tummy suffering stomach pain and diarrhea

Often times, diarrhea will pass within a few days and can be supported by nourishing foods, plenty of liquids and safe and effective remedies like DiaResQ. But sometimes diarrhea can become dangerous, and it’s important to know the warning signs.

When Diarrhea Becomes Dangerous for Children

When is diarrhea dangerous in children? This is an important question, and one that as a parent or caretaker, you want to know how to answer. Diarrhea in children can become dangerous quickly, so be ready to act if the following symptoms appear (according to the Mayo Clinic):

  • Diarrhea that doesn’t improve after one day
  • Lack of urination (no wet diapers after three hours or more)
  • A high fever of more than 102 degrees
  • Bloody or black stools
  • If you child becomes excessively drowsy, sleepy, irritable or unresponsive
  • A dry mouth or tongue
  • Crying without tears
  • Signs of dehydration like skin that won’t flatten after being pinched and released

In children, the duration of a normal bout of diarrhea is much shorter, and it is suggested that you should see a pediatrician for all cases of diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours.

When Diarrhea Becomes Dangerous for Adults

While most bouts of diarrhea won’t be much more than an annoyance in adults, be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms that could signify a dangerous situation:

  • Bloody or black, tarry stools
  • Diarrhea that occurs alongside a high fever (higher than 102 degrees)
  • Severe rectal or abdominal pain
  • Symptoms of dehydration (excessive thirst and weakness, little or no urination, dry skin and mouth, lightheadedness and dark-colored urine).
  • Diarrhea that doesn’t improve after two days

With a normal, run-of-the-mill case of adult diarrhea, symptoms should pass within roughly three days. If your diarrhea persists for more than a few days, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. 

Chronic diarrhea is defined as diarrhea that persists for four weeks or more. If this is the case, your doctor will likely want to run tests to find out what is causing your frequent diarrhea.

Other Factors to Consider 

Overall health and age are also factors to consider when determining whether diarrhea is cause for concern. A bout of diarrhea that might not be cause for concern in an otherwise healthy adult could be dangerous for people with compromised health or a weakened immune system. Small children, the elderly, pregnant and breastfeeding women or anyone with a health condition that weakens their immune system and their ability to fight off and recover from illness should never hesitate to call the doctor if their diarrhea persists for more than a few days (or 24 hours in small children).

Most cases of diarrhea are no reason to panic, but it’s good to know the common signs and symptoms of a more serious bout so you can take the proper steps and prevent a potentially dangerous situation.

DiaResQ Team

About DiaResQ Team

The DiaResQ Team consists of passionate nutritionists, doctors, and philanthropists. Based out of Boulder, CO, we strive to provide our readers with up to date, helpful information about diarrhea, hydration, healthy foods, and travel.

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