How Serious Is Having Diarrhea for a Week?

Diarrhea that occurs for more than three days in adults or more than 24 hours in children is possibly serious, as it can indicate an infection, pancreatitis, irritable bowel disease or colon cancer, particularly if accompanied by signs of dehydration or fever, notes WebMD. Seek immediate medical help in this case.

Blood in the stool, black stool and intense abdominal or rectal pain are other diarrhea symptoms that require prompt medical attention, states WebMD. Anyone who suffers persistent diarrhea after two weeks may have chronic diarrhea. It is important to tell the doctor about the length of the diarrhea, if it occurs intermittently or continuously, and if some foods or situations aggravate or improve the symptoms. Doctors also typically ask about accompanying symptoms, the person's history of chronic diarrhea, present medications, recent foods and recent travel locations.

In many cases, diarrhea is a simple brief upset and not a cause for medical concern, according to WebMD. It usually causes a person to pass loose, fluid stool at least two or three times throughout the day. Symptoms that sometimes accompany diarrhea include vomiting, fever, nausea and bloating. People also typically experience stomach pain and cramping. Diarrhea often resolves without medical treatment within 48 hours. It is essential to keep the body hydrated during bouts of diarrhea and avoid foods that can aggravate the condition.