In most cases, diarrhea resolves itself after two or three days, and almost always within one to two weeks. Usually, the only treatment necessary is preventing dehydration, which can be done by drinking replacement fluids and an electrolyte mixture. Adequate levels of minerals such as sodium, magnesium, calcium and especially potassium are essential in maintaining the electrical pacing of your heartbeat. Disruption of your body's levels of fluids and minerals creates a serious electrolyte imbalance.
Medicines that stop diarrhea should not be used for people whose diarrhea is caused by bacterial infection or a parasite because they may prolong the infection. In these cases, antibiotics are typically recommended. Depending on the severity and type of virus, viral caused diarrhea is either treated with medication or left to run its course.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
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