Having diarrhea can quickly dehydrate you, so taking in extra fluids may be the single most important thing you can do. And luckily, it’s pretty simple.

“For average diarrhea, plain water is OK,” says Lawrence Schiller, MD, past president of the American College of Gastroenterology.

If the diarrhea is severe, however, you may need to replenish not just water but salt, too, with oral rehydration solutions like Rehydralyte and Ceralyte (or Pedialyte or Infalyte for children).

“They’re not the same as sports drinks like Gatorade, which are made to replace loss of salt from sweat,” says Dr. Schiller.

Sports drinks–or even crackers and soup–may be enough if your diarrhea is mild.

Always be aware of the signs of dehydration, which, in adults, can include feeling very thirsty, not urinating often, dark-colored urine, dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. Infants and small children may cry without tears or have a dry mouth, sunken eyes or cheeks, and no wet diapers for three hours.


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