Diarrhoea is when you need to poo more often than you normally do. It can be a mild side effect of treatment but for some people it can be severe. Tell your doctor if you have diarrhoea.
Common signs and symptoms of diarrhoea
Diarrhoea usually means having more than 3 unformed stools in a 24 hour period.
Look out for:
- an increase in the number of bowel movements you have each day
- an increase in the amount (volume) of poo you have in a day
- a change in the way your poo looks - if it goes from solid to soft or watery
Other symptoms you might notice are:
- cramping pains in your tummy (abdomen)
- feeling sick
- needing to get to the toilet urgently
- a bloated feeling in the tummy
If you have a colostomy or ileostomy and you are emptying your stoma bag more often than normal, it might be a sign that you have diarrhoea.
Symptoms of severe diarrhoea
Severe diarrhoea can cause you to lose a lot of fluid and become dehydrated. This can make you very ill if you don't have treatment.
It is important to see your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- a high temperature (fever) or chills
- signs of dehydration such as feeling very thirsty, a rapid heart beat, feeling or being sick, and dark urine
- blood or mucus in your poo
- severe cramping and tummy pain
When to contact your doctor or nurse
Tell your doctor or nurse as soon as you have the first signs of diarrhoea. They will understand and want to help. They can advise you on how to manage your diarrhoea and might recommend some medicines.
Sometimes it can be hard to know when to call your doctor or nurse because you don’t want to bother them. You might feel embarrassed about talking about diarrhoea but they are there to help.