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Fluid and electrolyte repletion is the primary treatment for acute diarrhoea and gastroenteritis.
For details of oral rehydration see 9.2.1 Oral preparations for fluid and electrolyte imbalance.
A diagnosis of the cause of diarrhoea should be made before starting symptomatic treatment. Acute prescriptions should be restricted to 30 loperamide capsules or 20 codeine tablets.
NICE CG49 (2007) addresses the management of faecal incontinence. Prescribers are advised to review patient's medication and consider alternatives to drugs that might be contributing to faecal incontinence.
For advice about the use of antibiotics in gastroenteritis, refer to Gastro-intestinal tract infections in chapter 5 of the formulary.
NHS England (NHSE) has published new prescribing guidance for various common conditions for which over the counter (OTC) items should not be routinely prescribed in primary care (quick reference guide). One of these conditions is acute diarrhoea in adults.
Many diarrhoea products; for example, loperamide 2mg capsules and oral rehydration sachets are cheap to buy and are readily available OTC along with advice from pharmacies. Some self-care medicines are available from shops and supermarkets. Please click here for further information, exceptions, and a patient leaflet.