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Diarrhea (cont.)

Diarrhea Diagnosis

In healthy people with diarrhea, and who appear well otherwise, the health care professional may elect to do no tests at all. Stool cultures (when a sample of the stool is taken and examined in the lab for certain bacteria or parasites) are not usually necessary unless there is high fever, blood in the stool, recent travel, or prolonged disease.

  • In some cases, the health care professional may send a sample of the stool (or sometimes a cotton swab from the patient's rectum) to the laboratory to evaluate if the cause of diarrhea can be determined (such as certain bacteria or parasites present in the body). It usually takes approximately one to two days for the results of these tests.
  • Blood tests are sometimes necessary for patients with other medical problems or with severe disease.
  • A colonoscopy is an endoscope procedure that allows the physician to view the entire colon to evaluate for infections or structural abnormalities that could cause diarrhea.
  • Imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans are performed to rule out structural abnormalities as the cause of diarrhea, particularly when pain is a prominent symptom.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/10/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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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