Diarrhea is loose, watery stools (bowel movements). You have diarrhea if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. Acute diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts a short time. It is a common problem. It usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer. Then it goes away on its own.
Diarrhea lasting more than a few days may be a sign of a more serious problem. Chronic diarrhea -- diarrhea that lasts at least four weeks -- can be a symptom of a chronic disease. Chronic diarrhea symptoms may be continual, or they may come and go.
Who gets diarrhea?
People of all ages can get diarrhea. On average, adults In the United States have acute diarrhea once a year. Young children have it an average of twice a year.
People who visit developing countries are at risk for traveler's diarrhea. It is caused by consuming contaminated food or water.
What causes diarrhea?
The most common causes of diarrhea include
Bacteria from contaminated food or water
Viruses such as the flu, norovirus, or rotavirus . Rotavirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhea in children.
Parasites, which are tiny organisms found in contaminated food or water
Medicines such as antibiotics, cancer drugs, and antacids that contain magnesium
Food intolerances and sensitivities, which are problems digesting certain ingredients or foods. An example is lactose intolerance.
Diseases that affect the stomach, small intestine, or colon, such as Crohn's disease
Problems with how the colon functions, such as irritable bowel syndrome
Some people also get diarrhea after stomach surgery, because sometimes the surgeries can cause food to move through your digestive system more quickly.
Sometimes no cause can be found. If your diarrhea goes away within a few days, finding the cause is usually not necessary.
What other symptoms might I have with diarrhea?
Other possible symptoms of diarrhea include
Cramps or pain in the abdomen
An urgent need to use the bathroom
Loss of bowel control
If a virus or bacteria is the cause of your diarrhea, you may also have a fever, chills, and bloody stools.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which means that your body does not have enough fluid to work properly. Dehydration can be serious, especially for children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
When should I see a doctor for diarrhea?
Although it is usually not harmful, diarrhea can become dangerous or signal a more serious problem. Contact your health care provider if you have
Signs of dehydration
Diarrhea for more than 2 days, if you are an adult. For children, contact the provider if it lasts more than 24 hours.
Severe pain in your abdomen or rectum (for adults)
A fever of 102 degrees or higher
Stools containing blood or pus
Stools that are black and tarry
If children have diarrhea, parents or caregivers should not hesitate to call a health care provider. Diarrhea can be especially dangerous in newborns and infants.
How is the cause of diarrhea diagnosed?
To find the cause of diarrhea, your health care provider may
Do a physical exam
Ask about any medicines you are taking
Test your stool or blood to look for bacteria, parasites, or other signs of disease or infection
Ask you to stop eating certain foods to see whether your diarrhea goes away
If you have chronic diarrhea, your health care provider may perform other tests to look for signs of disease.
What are the treatments for diarrhea?
Diarrhea is treated by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Depending on the cause of the problem, you may need medicines to stop the diarrhea or treat an infection.
Adults with diarrhea should drink water, fruit juices, sports drinks, sodas without caffeine, and salty broths. As your symptoms improve, you can eat soft, bland food.
Children with diarrhea should be given oral rehydration solutions to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
Can diarrhea be prevented?
Two types of diarrhea can be prevented - rotavirus diarrhea and traveler's diarrhea. There are vaccines for rotavirus. They are given to babies in two or three doses.
You can help prevent traveler's diarrhea by being careful about what you eat and drink when you are in developing countries:
Use only bottled or purified water for drinking, making ice cubes, and brushing your teeth
If you do use tap water, boil it or use iodine tablets
Make sure that the cooked food you eat is fully cooked and served hot
Avoid unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Treatments might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Clinical trials can also look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. People participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Healthy volunteers say they participate to help others and to contribute to moving science forward. Participants with an illness or disease also participate to help others, but also to possibly receive the newest treatment and to have the additional care and attention from the clinical trial staff.
Drug: Single dose rifaximin 1650 mg; Drug: Single dose azithromycin 500 mg; Drug: Single dose levofloxacin 500 mg; Drug: Single dose azithromycin 1000 mg plus loperamide; Drug: Single dose azithromycin 1000 mg plus placebo
Clinical Cure - Acute Watery Diarrhea group; Clinical Cure - Acute Dysentery/Febrile Diarrhea group; Time to Last Unformed Stool
Incidence of nosocomial diarrhea (defined as the passage of 3 or more loose or watery stools in a 24-hour period that will occur more than 72 hours after admission); Incidence of diarrhea- passage of 3 or more loose or watery stools in a 24-h period; Duration of diarrhea (ie, time till the last loose or watery stool from the onset of diarrhea); Need and the length of intravenous rehydration due to diarrhea; Prolongation of the hospitalization due to nosocomial diarrhea; Incidence of rotavirus diarrhea (ie, detection of rotavirus or antigen in the stools); Incidence of chronic diarrhea- lasting more than 14 days; Length of hospital stay; Adverse effects
Incidence of Diarrhoea; incidence and duration of Clostridium difficile toxin; The rate of recurrence of antibiotic associated Diarrhoea in the active and placebo groups to the end of the follow up period; rate of recurrence of Clostridium difficile toxin positive Diarrhoea; The quality of life in the active and placebo groups at enrollment into the study; The length of hospital stay from enrollment into the study until the end of the follow up period in the active and placebo groups The cost-effectiveness as evidenced by health economic calculations
Percentage of caregivers who administer zinc to child for at least 8 days.; Percentage of caregivers who report giving zinc to child for at least 8 days.; Improved Provision of Care for Treatment of Diarrhea and Pneumonia
To determine the frequency of different gastrointestinal disorders as the cause of diarrhea in patients at a tertiary referral center using confocal laser endomicroscopy.; To investigate whether CLE has a higher sensitivity and specificity than standard colonoscopy in the diagnosis of the cause of diarrhea.
Duration of diarrhea in acute diarrheal illnesses in a developed nation while taking zinc or placebo.; Length of hospitalization for children with diarrheal illness taking zinc or placebo.; Examine the potential cost benefits of supplementation with zinc in reducing number of work days lost, daycare days not attended and decrease in length of hospitalization; Assess parent reporting reliability comparing survey responses to phone interview.
In this study efficacy of loperamide and tincture of opium is linked to the respective proportions of patients where Diarrhoea of grade > 2 is successfully averted during (cancer) therapy.; Should Diarrhoea of grade > 2 occur despite the respective drug treatment, the corresponding medicament is assessed as inefficacious in that case.; Scores from the EORTC-QLQ-C30; Body composition data (BMI, proportions of fat and water
Time (in hours) between the 1st intake of IQP-MM-101 and first formed or hard stool followed by a non watery stool; Time (hours) from the first intake to the last watery stool; Number of stools; Number of watery stools; Stool frequency and consistency; Percentage of patients having recovered within a certain time period (defined as having achieved the primary efficacy endpoint); Associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain; Time off from work; Evaluation of energy for "everyday life"; Global evaluation of safety and efficacy by subjects and investigators; Occurrence of Adverse events (AEs)
Incidence of Clostridium difficle associated diarrhea in patients randomized to Go Live Rx compared with those randomized to placebo; Incidence of Antibiotic associated diarrhea in patients randomized to Go Live Rx compared with those randomized to placebo