Doctor's Notes on Diarrhea
Diarrhea is a common condition that is characterized by frequent and loose bowel movements. Diarrhea that comes on suddenly is often due to a viral infection. Diarrhea that is persistent and lasts more than 4-6 weeks usually is a sign of an underlying problem with the gastrointestinal tract. Causes of chronic diarrhea may include:
- irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease,
- infections (such as salmonellosis, shigellosis, rotavirus, Norwalk virus, cholera, giardiasis, and cryptosporidiosis)
- food poisoning, and
- medication side effects.
Associated symptoms that often accompany diarrhea depend on the cause and may include:
- abdominal pain or cramping,
- blood in the stool,
- feeling the need to urgently have a bowel movement,
- watery stool, or
- pus in the stool.
What Is the Treatment for Diarrhea?
Treatment of diarrhea depends on the cause and severity. For most cases of diarrhea, medication is not necessary. Possible treatments may include:
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.