How Long Does Diarrhea Last? Remedies That Can Help Quickly
How long does diarrhea last? The answer to that question can be surprisingly complicated.
Diarrhea can occur for a variety of reasons. It may be a temporary sign that your body is managing an illness, or it may result from diet or lifestyle choices that need to be controlled before you can find relief.
If you want to know how long your diarrhea symptoms will last, you need to consider the causes. In this short guide, you’ll learn about the symptoms (so you can rule out unrelated disorders), what factors can prolong them, and how long recovery can take.
After that, you’ll find some advice that can help you resolve diarrhea symptoms more quickly.
Table of Contents
- What are the symptoms of diarrhea?
- What factors can bring on diarrhea or make it last longer?
- How long does diarrhea last (depending on severity)?
- Remedies that can help diarrhea resolve faster
What are the symptoms of diarrhea?
Diarrhea refers to stools that are loose or liquid. Both types may be present in a bowel movement. All of the following symptoms may mark a case of diarrhea:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- The presence of mucus in the stool
- The urgency to have frequent bowel movements
Not all of these symptoms may be present in all cases. The range of the symptoms you experience may depend on the source and the severity of your case. Some cases may require medical observation.
When should I see a doctor about my symptoms?
Some of the symptoms of diarrhea are serious enough that you should seek medical observation.
Call your doctor if you experience any of these additional symptoms:
- Diarrhea that lasts longer than several days
- Severe or increasing abdominal pain
- The presence of blood in your stool
- Serious fever (above 102F)
In most cases, diarrhea symptoms will be unpleasant rather than dangerous. A number of different factors determine how long a case will last and how severe the symptoms will be.
What factors can bring on diarrhea or make it last longer?
Diarrhea is likely to last much longer if it has causes that are not being controlled. Consider all of the following possible causes of diarrhea and determine if any of them are relevant to your lifestyle.
Dietary causes of diarrhea
- Food allergies: Diarrhea may result from an allergic reaction. When this is the cause, it often appears alongside other symptoms, including tingling sensations in the mouth, swelling around the face, and hives.
- Food intolerances: Unlike allergies, intolerances do not cause an immune reaction. The symptoms are usually limited to the gut. These may include abdominal pain.
- Over-indulgence: Over-eating can interfere with the gut’s proper function and lead to diarrhea as the food is forcefully cleared.
Illnesses that may cause diarrhea
Many illnesses can cause diarrhea. Some cases are temporary, while others may be a sign of a serious chronic illness that needs to be treated.
- Bacterial infection (including food poisoning): Bacterial infections may result from undercooked food or dirty cooking implements. Diarrhea may occur in both mild and severe cases. Vomiting is also likely to occur in these cases.
- Viral infection: Viruses, particularly the Norovirus, are a major cause of diarrhea. Nausea and stomach cramps are also likely to appear in these cases.
- Gastric disorders: Diarrhea may point to serious gastric disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, or Celiac Disease. When these diseases are present, symptoms may not clear up until treatment.
- Adverse reactions to medication: Certain medications, such as those that treat heartburn, may have diarrhea as a side effect.
- Response to stomach surgery: If you have recently undergone stomach surgery, you may experience diarrhea as a temporary condition.
How long does diarrhea last?
Now that you understand some of the possible causes of diarrhea, it’s easier to explain how long your case may last. It depends on what’s causing your symptoms. The table below summarizes what you can expect from your case, depending on its cause.
Cause of diarrhea
How long will it last?
Cases resulting from infection
Up to a week until illness clears
Cases resulting from chronic illnesses or disorders
May persist until treatment
Cases resulting from side effects
May resolve after an adjustment period or persist as long as the treatment continues
Remember, it’s important to speak to a doctor in any cases where your symptoms persist for several days or result in dehydration. Don’t attempt to diagnose yourself if you find that your symptoms are getting worse.
Remedies that can help diarrhea resolve faster
You may be able to resolve diarrhea faster with some simple treatments. Consider all of the following solutions:
Common over-the-counter treatments may help you restore comfort. Loperamide is one of the most effective over-the-counter treatments for diarrhea and is available in various forms.
Stay hydrated, and consume binding nutrients
Drinking lots of water may help you resolve diarrhea cases more quickly. It has the added benefit of protecting you from dehydration and dehydration’s unpleasant side effects (dizziness, headaches, and dry mouth).
You may have undiagnosed allergies or intolerances. If you experience chronic diarrhea, you may be able to resolve it more quickly by experimenting with eliminating food from your diet. Bread, dairy, shellfish, and mushrooms allergies are frequently responsible for mild symptoms.
Manage Your Symptoms Safely
Now, you understand what causes diarrhea, and what contributing factors may be playing a role in how long you’ll need to manage it. Remember to consider what you’re eating and whether you may have conditions that have yet to be diagnosed.
If your symptoms persist, or if you develop signs of dehydration, you should speak to a doctor as soon as possible.