Diarrhoea often goes away without treatment after a few days, because your immune system (the body's natural defence system) automatically fights the infection.
However contact your doctor if you have:
- recently been treated in hospital
- recently been treated with antibiotics
- diarrhoea that is very dark and smelly
- you have bad pain in your abdomen or back passage
- diarrhoea that has blood in it
- diarrhoea and persistent vomiting
- you have no appetite and are losing weight
- bleeding from your rectum (back passage)
- passed large volumes of very watery diarrhoea, or your urine is very dark – you may be at risk of dehydration
- symptoms at night that are disturbing your sleep
- diarrhoea that lasts longer than 2 days
- you have a fever
- you have a chronic illness, for example diabetes.
The information on this page relates to diarrhoea in adults. For information specific to children read the article about diarrhoea and vomiting in children.
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