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Diarrhea (cont.)

Diarrhea Symptoms

  • Watery, liquid stools: The stools may be any color. The passage of red stools suggests intestinal bleeding and could be a sign of a more severe infection. The passage of thick, tarry black stools suggests significant bleeding in the stomach or upper portions of the intestine and is not usually caused by acute infections.
  • Abdominal cramps: Occasionally diarrhea is accompanied with mild-to-moderate abdominal pain. Severe abdominal or stomach pain is not common and, if present, may suggest more severe disease.
  • Fever: A high fever is not common. If present, the affected person may have a more severe illness than acute diarrhea.
  • Dehydration: If diarrhea leads to dehydration, it is a sign of potentially serious disease.
  • Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
    • Adults may be very thirsty and have a dry mouth.
    • The skin of older people may appear to be loose. The elderly may also become very sleepy or have behavioral changes and confusion when dehydrated.
    • Dehydrated infants and children may have sunken eyes, dry mouths, and urinate less frequently than usual. They may appear very sleepy or may refuse to eat or drink.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/9/2012
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Diarrhea »

Acute diarrhea is defined as the abrupt onset of abnormally high fluid content in the stool (more than the normal value of approximately 10 mL/kg/d).

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