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What is it?

Diarrhoea is a common symptom of an ‘upset tummy’ – a gastrointestinal disturbance. It produces frequent watery stools and may be accompanied by abdominal pain, feeling sick, and tiredness. Sometimes there is blood and/or mucus in the stool. Most adults experience several brief bouts of uncomplicated diarrhoea each year that are usually short-lived and self-limiting, resolving themselves within a few days and cause nothing more than temporary discomfort. However, severe diarrhoea or diarrhoea which lasts several weeks can be dangerous, especially to very young children and the elderly. When diarrhoea is severe or lasts a long time it can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, and some of those affected may need to be admitted to hospital. In infants, significant dehydration can occur much more quickly than adults, sometimes within a day or two.

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