The World Health Organization defines diarrhea as three or more loose stools in a day. Most cases of diarrhea will pass and aren’t cause for concern (although measures to stay hydrated and support your body are in order). But sometimes diarrhea can become dangerous, and it’s important to know the warning signs.
You can alleviate most cases of diarrhea with nourishing foods, liquids, and DiaResQ, a food for special dietary use that provides key nutrients and promotes digestive health.
If you or your child’s diarrhea doesn’t improve after the above recommendations, contact your doctor.
When Diarrhea Becomes Dangerous for Children
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
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 stool
- 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
Chronic diarrhea is defined as diarrhea that persists for four weeks or more. If this is the case, your doctor will want to run tests to find out what is causing diarrhea.
What Could These Symptoms Mean?
Before scouring the internet for possible diagnosis, best to simply make an appointment with your doctor. It’s important to rule out (or treat) things like an infection, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), pancreatitis or colon cancer.
When Diarrhea Becomes Dangerous While Traveling
Depending on where you are, traveling could force you to take diarrhea more seriously. If you’re in a city with good medical care, the above rules still apply. However, if you’re backpacking or in a remote area, you’ll want to be extra cautious. Traveling with DiaResQ can be a trip-saver.
The good news is that you can usually treat diarrhea. However, being informed about what constitutes potentially dangerous diarrhea is important for the health of your whole family.