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Diarrhea (cont.)

Diarrhea Prevention

Many cases of diarrhea are spread from person-to-person. The following precautions can help an individual avoid diarrhea and other viral or bacterial infections:

  • Individuals caring for sick children or adults in any setting should carefully wash their hands after changing diapers, helping an individual use the bathroom, or assisting an individual around the home.
  • Children should be instructed to wash their hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom.

Practice safe food handling. Always wash hands before and after handling food.

  • Use care when preparing raw poultry or meat. Food should be cooked to the recommended temperatures. Avoid raw or rare meat and poultry. Utensils coming in contact with raw food should be cleaned in soap and hot water.
  • Fruits and vegetables consumed raw should be thoroughly rinsed in clean water.
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk may be contaminated with bacteria and should always be avoided. Unpasteurized fruit juice or cider should generally be avoided even if the source is not known because the fruit may have come in contact with contaminated animal feces in the orchard.
  • Use caution when traveling, especially to foreign countries. Do not eat foods from street vendors. Don't drink water or drinks with ice cubes made from tap water if the country is deemed unsafe. Check the Travelers' Health Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for travel information for your destination.

Diarrhea Prognosis

Symptoms should begin to improve two to three days after the original diarrheal episode. Loose stools may persist longer than other symptoms.

Serious disease is usually seen in individuals who become severely dehydrated, particularly infants, the elderly, or other people with significant medical illnesses.


Author Christine A Wanke, MD. Travelers' diarrhea. Microbiology, epidemiology, and prevention. UpToDate. Jul 26 2015

American Cancer Society. Diarrhea. Jul 26, 2015

Arnold Wald, MD. Factitious diarrhea. UpToDate. Apr 23, 2015

Chiba, T. et al. Alcohol-related diarrhea. Apr 01, 2015

Christine A Wanke, MD. Patient information: Acute diarrhea in adults (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. Aug 06, 2015

National Cancer Institute. Gastrointestinal Complications–for health professionals (PDQ). Jun 26, 2015.

Murao, MD, PHD, et al. Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Antagonist for Treatment of Severe Diabetic Diarrhea. Mar, 2010

Riddoch, C. et al. Gastrointestinal Disturbances in Marathon Runners. BritJ.Sports Med. June 1988.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/5/2015
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Diarrhea »

Acute diarrhea is defined as the abrupt onset of abnormally high fluid content in the stool (more than the normal value of approximately 10 mL/kg/d).

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