Diarrhoea (sometimes spelled diarrhea) often resolves itself, but sometimes people experience more severe symptoms. Our prescription packs can help you to:
- prevent dehydration
- treat persistent diarrhoea
- treat travellers' diarrhoea
With Dr Morton's - the medical helpline© you can email or phone a real doctor at any time for more information, reassurance or advice.
Dr Morton's Test Kit© for diarrhoea
What causes diarrhoea?
Viral infections account for over 70% of stomach upsets in the UK where diarrhoea is the main symptom. Seasonal Norovirus is a major culprit. These illnesses, the medical term for which is gastroenteritis, have to run their course. Treatment needs to be directed at keeping the body’s chemical balance and hydration as normal as possible.
If you're experiencing severe vomiting (acute gastritis) with diarrhoea, it is likely that you are suffering from food poisoning. This type of upset stomach is common, and usually only lasts 24 hours.
Bacterial infections can be much more serious, and may require more sophisticated treatment. There are several types of bacteria that can cause diarrhoea, like campylobacter, shigella or salmonella, but these tend to be rare in the UK. Unless you have been abroad, or have been in close contact with someone else who has it, it is very unlikely that you have one of these infections.
- loose stools
- stomach pains or cramps
- nausea (feeling sick)
- loss of appetite
- dehydration (this can make you feel faint)
- flatulence (passing wind)
- fever (high temperature)
Chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are not caused by bacteria or parasites, but can also cause diarrhoea.
There are some very serious infections that cause diarrhoea, like dysentery, typhoid or cholera, but these are thankfully very rare in the UK.
Treatment for diarrhoea
The most important thing to do if you have diarrhoea is to avoid dehydration. Losing fluids can be dangerous, particularly for the young, elderly or frail, as it deprives your body of both water and vitals salts. To maintain your fluid and salt balance, rehydration sachets are highly recommended.
Loperamide is a medication that helps to slow down diarrhoea. It stops the symptoms rather than the cause. If you need to move around or travel and wish to avoid embarrassment, loperamide may help.
You can ask one of our doctors for both loperamide and rehydration sachets by ordering
If you have been abroad, particularly in the developing world, there is a greater chance that you may have caught a specific bacterial or parasitic infection.
If you caught diarrhoea whilst in South East Asia, azithromycin is the most effective antibiotic and
For travellers returning with diarrhoea due to a bacterial infection contracted elsewhere in the world, ciprofloxacin is the recommended antibiotic treatment, therefore we include this in a different pack:
If you have had persistent diarrhoea for ten days or more, and antibiotics like ciprofloxacin or azithromycin have failed, then it is possible that you have a parasitic infection such as giardia (giardiasis).
All of our diarrhoea packs contain hydration sachets and loperamide, and can be delivered straight to your door. To order one, register for free today and fill out a short medical questionnaire. If the doctor does not think the pack will be appropriate for you, you won't be charged a penny.
If you are travelling on an expedition to a location where diarrhoea is a common problem, you may wish to take advance precautions and have the appropriate medicine with you. You should consider
When you should contact a doctor
Consult a doctor if you have the following symptoms:
- mucus in your stools
- blood in your stools
- skin rash
- severe abdominal pain
Avoiding travellers' diarrhoea
Prevention of travellers' diarrhoea is better than cure. If you are travelling to an area of poor sanitation, make sure you:
- drink only bottled water and avoid consuming ice
- avoid unpeeled fruit and vegetables, and be aware that salad may be washed in unpurified water
- thoroughly clean your hands before eating or after using the toilet
- be wary of food that may have been left out at room temperature for a long time
Diarrhoea in pregnancy
If you get diarrhoea when pregnant, you may need special advice or even medical assistance to protect you and your baby. Speak to one of our doctors if you're worried, as they will be able to point you in the right direction.
An interesting fact about diarrhoea...
Many Spanish conquistadores that went to Mexico under the rule of Montezuma II (1466 - 1520) died due to severe attacks of diarrhoea. To this day, travellers' diarrhoea is still sometimes called Montezuma's revenge!
This page was last updated on 24/08/2016