What is diarrhoea?

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  • Diarrhoea is commonly called a runny tummy and is when you pass large volumes of watery stool at least 3 times in 1 day. A person can also vomit.5,6
  • Diarrhoea is a very common illness in all age groups, but children under 5 are the most vulnerable.
  • Across the world, more than 1.6 million people die of diarrhoea every year. Many of them are children under 5 years.21

Causes of diarrhoea

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  • Germs like viruses, bacteria or parasites that usually come from unclean water or food that has not been cooked or washed properly and unclean water.5,22
  • Certain medication, like antibiotics, can cause diarrhoea.5
  • Some diseases in the gut can cause diarrhoea for a short time (acute) or for a longer period (chronic). If diarrhoea lasts longer than 10-14 days, it could be due to these chronic conditions.5

Signs and symptoms of diarrhoea

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  • Loose, watery stools
  • Urgent need to go to the toilet
  • Abdominal pain (pain or cramps in your gut)
  • Nausea & vomiting – feeling sick and throwing up may sometimes occur with diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite (especially if nauseous)
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Fever or chills
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Signs of dehydration

Healthy tips when you have diarrhoea

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When you have diarrhoea, the most important thing to do is to make sure you do not dehydrate.

  • Drink fluids to replace water and electrolytes.
  • Older children and adults should continue to eat food, and keep drinking oral rehydration solution while their tummy is still running.
  • Babies that are breastfed should continue to be nursed.
  • Healthy persons need to see a doctor if the diarrhoea lasts longer than 3 days despite treatment, or if they have severe abdominal pain, high fever, or bloody stools
  • Wash hands correctly and well, after going to the toilet.


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Medication that can stop diarrhoea and prevent dehydration can be taken.

Some of the medicine can be bought from a pharmacy and you will not need a prescription from the doctor.

These include:

  • Oral rehydration solutions
  • Medicine to slow down or reduce passing of stools:
    This medicine works in the gut to help reduce passed stools as well as cramps.
  • Antibiotics:
    Are only needed if you have a fever, or have blood or mucus in the stool.

What is dehydration?

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You can become dehydrated when your body cannot balance the intake and loss of water, which makes up 60% of your body.

This tends to happen more easily to children or the elderly.4

Breathe: The air you breathe out is damp from the water in your lungs.

Sweat: Is when you cool your body

Urinate or Defecate: Is when the waste is removed from your body

Causes of dehydration

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Signs and symptoms of dehydration

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Healthy tips to prevent dehydration

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You need to drink enough water every day, no matter whether you are sick or not. You should drink 2-3 litres of water each day, depending on body weight and activity 4

When you lose water, you also lose electrolytes like sodium, chloride, potassium and bicarbonate.
Healthy fluids are:4,20

  •  ORS Oral Replacement Solution
  • Avoid fizzy high sugar and caffeinated drinks
  • Tea with no sugar
  • Water in which rice or cereal was cooked, with or without salt
  • You need to ensure you drink enough fluid when the weather is hot, or when you are sick especially with a fever, and when doing physical exercise
  • Ensure children drink enough water and take water bottles to school


Treatment of dehydration

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Oral Replacement Solution (ORS), which is normally a powder containing important electrolytes, that is mixed with clean water, should be taken as soon as possible. Make sure to mix it correctly and give it according to instructions. Drinking ORS too quickly could result in vomiting. Do not stop treatment; wait 5-10 minutes and try the ORS again, but more slowly.

REHIDRAT Oral rehydration solution

  • REHIDRAT® is SA’s  No. 1 oral electrolyte replacement solution, contains an optimal balance of sugars, salts and minerals to replenish lost fluids and help prevent and treat dehydration and electrolyte depletion.6 IQVIA Data December 2020. **
  • REHIDRAT® is available in 3 flavours – Blackcurrant, Orange, Vanilla and contains no artificial preservatives, sweeteners or colourants and is suitable for the whole family.
  • Preparing REHIDRAT® is easy – follow us on YouTube for easy instructions
  • Offer oral rehydration solution to infants using a method that they are familiar with e.g. a baby bottle, cup or spoon. Always prepare the solution fresh every day and dispose of any solution not used after 24 hours.
  • Infants less than 1 year of age should be given ½ to 1 cup (100 – 200 ml) of REHIDRAT® for every bowel movement.
  • Children 1 to 5 years of age should be given at least one cup (200 ml) for every bowel movement, while older children and adults should drink enough REHIDRAT® to quench their thirst and replace the fluid lost in every stool.

S0 REHIDRAT® ORANGE. Reg. No. Y/24/181.


S0 REHIDRAT® VANILLA. Reg. No. N/24/103.

Each 14 g sachet of powder contains: Sodium Chloride 0,44 g, Potassium Chloride 0,38 g, Sodium Bicarbonate 0,42 g, Glucose 4,1 g, Sucrose 8,1 g.

For full prescribing information, please refer to the Professional Information approved by the medicines regulatory authority.

Please note: this is an education information leaflet only and should not be used for diagnosis. For more information on Diarrhoea & Dehydration, consult your healthcare professional.

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