Fort Worth, Texas,
10:16 AM

7 Days of Diarrhea, Now What Should I Do?

Why Doc Smitty doesn't recommend antidiarrheal medications

Antidiarrheal medicines are in the news right now because the U.S. Food & Drug Admininistration has reached out to manufacturers of over-the-counter anti-diarrhea treatments to change the way they package their producs as part of its fight against the opioid epidemic.

As a pediatrician, I've never been in favor of these medications as a treatment for your child's stomach virus and diarrhea. Studies have shown that use of antidiarrheal medications may prolong the course of the illness. 

Stomach viruses are the most common cause of diarrhea. Diarrhea, after a stomach bug, can last a while, even up to 1 week. A close second is diarrhea associated with antibiotics which can last as long as the child is on antibiotics and even a few days later.

For most cases of diarrhea, you probably don’t need to see the doctor. Here are some things you can do at home to help:

1. Get back to a regular diet as soon as possible. Continuing the Gatorade or Pedialyte only makes it last longer.

2. Do not use antidiarrheal medicines (even Pepto-Bismol). They don’t work and can have severe side effects. 

3. Talk with your doctor about using probiotics. Some studies have shown that they might be helpful.

Here are some reasons it might be time to go ahead and give the doctor a call:

1. Stool with blood or mucous

2. High fever

3. Signs of dehydration (dry lips, not urinating for 6-8 hours)

4. Diarrhea that lasts more than 1 week

Diarrhea will never be fun because it can ruin your life for a few days. But, if your child’s diarrhea lasts more than a week, trot (sorry) on over to your friendly pediatrician. They might need to do some tests to help you figure out what is going on.

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.

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