Diarrhea in Children and Teens
Diarrhea is loose, watery, or more frequent soft bowel movements. Common causes of diarrhea in children include infections of the stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract), changes in diet or anxiety. Most cases of diarrhea are not serious, go away in a day or two and can be managed at home. However, diarrhea that happens along with persistent abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, or not urinating may require a doctor's attention. Diarrhea that seems to be getting worse or that lasts more than a week also should be discussed with a doctor.
Answering the questions in this tool will help you understand more about the possible causes of diarrhea in children, and will help you decide when to call your doctor.
For information on diarrhea in infants, visit our Diarrhea in Infants Decision Guide.
Children with diarrhea can become dehydrated when they do not take in enough fluids to replace those liquids that are lost with the diarrhea.
Signs that your child may be dehydrated include
making less urine than usual or has not made any urine in six to eight hours
increased sleepiness (lethargy)
decreased appetite or poor feeding
fast heart rate
dry mouth or tongue
pale, dry skin
lack of tears
Does your child show any signs of dehydration?
Yes, my child may be dehydrated.
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