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Diarrhoea symptoms

Diarrhoea can range in severity from slightly watery faeces and a brief abdominal discomfort to longer term, extremely watery faeces and cramping abdominal pains. Many people have a frequent, urgent need to go to the toilet.

Other common symptoms associated with diarrhoea are:

In adults, the symptoms of diarrhoea usually improve within two to four days. The time that diarrhoea usually lasts for in particular infections can be:

  • rotavirus – three to seven days
  • norovirus – one to three days
  • campylobacter and salmonella bacterial infections – up to 10 days
  • giardiasis (infection with the Giardia intestinalis parasite) – several weeks.

Always see your doctor if you experience serious symptoms. Babies and young children with diarrhoea need prompt medical attention.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your diarrhoea, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).



Last reviewed: July 2017

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