Diarrhea

    Diarrhea

    14
    0
    SHARE

    Definition of diarrhea

    Diarrhea describes loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. You may also experience abdominal cramps and a greater volume of stool. Diarrhea varies in specific symptoms, severity and duration.

    Acute diarrhea usually lasts for a few days and is typically caused by a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection of some sort.

    Chronic diarrhea persists longer than does acute diarrhea, generally longer than three weeks. Chronic diarrhea can indicate a serious disorder, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or a less serious condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

    Causes of diarrhea

    Acute diarrhea causes may include:

    1. Antacids containing magnesium
    2. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea
    3. Blood pressure medications
    4. C. difficile
    5. Campylobacter infection
    6. Cancer medications
    7. Clostridium perfringens infection
    8. Cryptosporidium infection
    9. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
    10. E. coli
    11. Entamoeba histolytica infection
    12. Food intolerances
    13. Food poisoning
    14. Fructose intolerance
    15. Giardiasis
    16. Lactose intolerance
    17. Norovirus infection
    18. Rotavirus
    19. Salmonella infection
    20. Shigella infection
    21. Staph infections
    22. Stomach surgery
    23. Traveler’s diarrhea

    Chronic diarrhea causes may include:

    1. Blood pressure medications
    2. Caffeine
    3. Cancer medications
    4. Celiac disease
    5. Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal)
    6. Colon cancer
    7. Crohn’s disease
    8. Bariatric surgery
    9. Hepatitis A
    10. Hepatitis B
    11. Hepatitis C
    12. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
    13. Irritable bowel syndrome
    14. Ischemic colitis
    15. Pancreatic insufficiency
    16. Ulcerative colitis
    17. Whipple’s disease

    When to see a doctor

    Most cases of diarrhea clear on their own without treatment. However, diarrhea may cause a loss of significant amounts of water and salts. See your doctor if you experience any of the following.

    Seek immediate medical attention

    In children, particularly young children, diarrhea — especially if combined with either fever or vomiting or both — can sometimes lead to dehydration. Call your doctor if your child’s diarrhea doesn’t improve after 24 hours or if your baby:

    • Hasn’t had a wet diaper in three or more hours
    • Has a fever of more than 102 F (39 C)
    • Has bloody or black stools
    • Has a dry mouth or cries without tears
    • Is unusually sleepy, drowsy, unresponsive or irritable
    • Has a sunken appearance to the abdomen, eyes or cheeks
    • Has skin that doesn’t flatten if pinched and released

    Schedule a doctor’s visit

    In adults, diarrhea usually resolves on its own without any complications. See your doctor if:

    • Your diarrhea persists beyond two days without any sign of improvement
    • You become dehydrated — as evidenced by excessive thirst, dry mouth or skin, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness, or dark-colored urine
    • You have severe abdominal or rectal pain
    • You have bloody or black stools
    • You have a fever of more than 102 F (39 C)