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Diarrhoea vs. Diarrhea — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 15, 2024
Diarrhoea and diarrhea refer to the same medical condition; the difference lies in the spelling—'diarrhoea' is preferred in British English, while 'diarrhea' is used in American English.
Diarrhoea vs. Diarrhea — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Diarrhoea and Diarrhea


Key Differences

Diarrhoea is commonly used in British English to describe a condition of having loose or watery stools. Whereas, in American English, this condition is spelled as diarrhea.
The spelling variation reflects broader differences between British and American English orthography. On the other hand, both terms are phonetically and semantically the same.
In medical texts and professional settings in the UK, "diarrhoea" is the standardized form. In contrast, American medical journals and healthcare settings will use "diarrhea."
The choice of spelling can sometimes confuse learners of English, as they encounter both forms in different English-language materials. Whereas, native speakers generally stick to the spelling norm of their variant of English.
When publishing internationally accessible content, it’s crucial to choose one spelling and be consistent to avoid confusion. On the other hand, local publications typically adhere to the local spelling norm.

Comparison Chart



Usage in Textbooks

Common in the UK
Common in the US

Medical Journals

Preferred in the UK
Preferred in the US

Public Health

Used by NHS
Used by CDC

Language Education

Taught in UK schools
Taught in US schools

Compare with Definitions


A condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day.
After eating spoiled food, he suffered from severe diarrhoea.


A common gastrointestinal complaint that involves frequent loose or watery bowel movements.
Traveler's diarrhea is a common problem for tourists in certain countries.


Preventative measures include proper hygiene and safe food practices.
Washing hands regularly can prevent the spread of infections that cause diarrhoea.


Can be acute or chronic, depending on duration and cause.
His diarrhea turned chronic, necessitating a visit to the gastroenterologist.


It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration.
Diarrhoea is dangerous for children and the elderly because it can quickly lead to dehydration.


Vaccination can prevent some infectious forms.
Rotavirus vaccinations have reduced the incidence of severe diarrhea in infants.


Treatment typically involves fluid rehydration, medication, and diet adjustment.
She treated her diarrhoea with increased fluid intake and over-the-counter medication.


Often results from gastrointestinal infections or stress.
Stress-related diarrhea is a problem for people with anxiety disorders.


Caused by infections, certain medications, or food intolerance.
Viral infections are a common cause of diarrhoea.


Management might include dietary changes, hydration, and sometimes antibiotics.
To manage his diarrhea, he followed a strict BRAT diet.


Variant of diarrhea.


Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss.


Standard spelling of diarrhea


Excessive and frequent evacuation of watery feces.


Frequent and watery bowel movements; can be a symptom of infection or food poisoning or colitis or a gastrointestinal tumor


A gastrointestinal disorder characterized by frequent and very soft or watery bowel movements.


The watery or very soft excrement that comes from such bowel movements.


A morbidly frequent and profuse discharge of loose or fluid evacuations from the intestines, without tenesmus; a purging or looseness of the bowels; a flux.


Frequent and watery bowel movements; can be a symptom of infection or food poisoning or colitis or a gastrointestinal tumor

Common Curiosities

What is diarrhoea/diarrhea?

It's a condition characterized by frequent, loose, or watery bowel movements.

How long does diarrhoea/diarrhea usually last?

It typically lasts a few days but can vary depending on the cause.

How do you spell diarrhoea/diarrhea in British and American English?

In British English, it is spelled "diarrhoea," and in American English, it is "diarrhea."

What are common causes of diarrhoea/diarrhea?

Infections, stress, certain medications, and food intolerance are common causes.

What dietary changes can help manage diarrhoea/diarrhea?

Eating bland foods, avoiding dairy, caffeine, and spicy foods can help.

Is diarrhoea/diarrhea serious?

It can be serious, especially if it leads to dehydration.

Can diarrhoea/diarrhea be prevented?

Yes, through proper hygiene, safe food practices, and vaccinations.

How can diarrhoea/diarrhea be treated?

Treatment often involves rehydration, dietary adjustments, and sometimes medication.

Are there any home remedies for diarrhoea/diarrhea?

Yes, such as staying hydrated and following the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast).

Do children suffer from diarrhoea/diarrhea more often than adults?

Yes, children are particularly susceptible to diarrhoea/diarrhea.

How does hygiene prevent diarrhoea/diarrhea?

Good hygiene practices can prevent the spread of infections that cause diarrhea.

What is the BRAT diet?

A diet recommended for people with upset stomachs or bowel issues, consisting of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

How does stress contribute to diarrhoea/diarrhea?

Stress can disrupt the gut-brain interaction and lead to gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea.

Should someone with diarrhoea/diarrhea see a doctor?

Yes, especially if it persists for more than a few days or is accompanied by severe symptoms.

Can medications cause diarrhoea/diarrhea?

Yes, certain medications like antibiotics can disrupt gut flora, leading to diarrhea.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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