When should antibiotics be used for diarrhea?
Most episodes of diarrhea are acute and of short duration and do not require antibiotics. Antibiotics are not even necessary for the most common bacterial infections that cause diarrhea.
Antibiotics, however, often are used when
- patients have more severe and persistent diarrhea,
- patients have additional debilitating diseases such as heart failure, lung disease, and AIDS,
- stool examination and testing discloses parasites, more serious bacterial infections (for example, Shigella), or C. difficile, and
- traveler's diarrhea.