Illustration of the anatomy of the digestive system, adult
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What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is defined either as watery stool, or increased frequency, or both, when compared to a normal amount. It is a common problem that may last a few days and disappear on its own.

Diarrhea may be acute (short-term), which is usually related to bacterial or viral infections, or chronic (long-term), which is usually related to a functional disorder or intestinal disease.

What causes diarrhea?

Diarrhea may be caused by a number of conditions, including the following:

Many people suffer "traveler's diarrhea" caused by a bacterial infection or a parasite, or even food poisoning.

Severe diarrhea may indicate a serious disease, and it is important to consult your doctor if the symptoms persist or affect daily activities. Identifying the cause of the problem may be difficult.

What are the symptoms of diarrhea?

The following are the most common symptoms of diarrhea. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Dehydration is one of the more serious side effects of diarrhea. Symptoms of dehydration include:

The symptoms of diarrhea may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is diarrhea diagnosed?

In addition to a complete physical examination, medical history, and laboratory tests for blood and urine, diagnostic procedures for diarrhea may include the following:

Treatment for diarrhea

Specific treatment for diarrhea will be determined by your doctor based on:

Treatment usually involves replacing lost fluids, and may include antibiotics when bacterial infections are the cause.

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Online Resources of Digestive Disorders


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