Diarrhea is defined as having loose or watery bowel movements. Most people experience diarrhea a few times a year and it typically will go away on its own. However, in some cases it can be an indication of a more serious issue.
The 3 classifications of diarrhea are: Acute (less than 2 weeks), Persistent (2-4 weeks) and Chronic (longer than 4 weeks).
TIP: Diarrhea can quickly cause dehydration. Therefore, you should consider increasing your fluid intake with electrolyte rich liquids until the condition passes.
When to see a Doctor for Diarrhea
If diarrhea persists for more than 2 days it is recommended that you see a doctor. Also, if you experience any of the following symptoms I recommended seeing physician in the Fort Worth, TX area to be evaluated:
- Bloody or dark black stool
- Severe abdominal pain
- Fever greater than 102 F
- Signs of dehydration
- Your diarrhea started after you started taking antibiotics
What Causes Diarrhea?
According to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons the function of the colon is to reabsorb fluids and process waste from the body and prepare for its elimination. However, when this process is disrupted and fluids are not properly reabsorbed we are left with diarrhea. Below is a list of some of the most common things that can cause this condition:
- Alcohol abuse
- Colon Cancer
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Celiac Disease
- Parasitic infections
In order to help your doctor determine the cause of your diarrhea they may order the following tests:
- Blood tests – comprehensive blood tests can help determine the cause of diarrhea
- Stool tests – can help determine whether a bacterium or parasite is causing your diarrhea
- Colonoscopy – will allow for a biopsy of the colon’s lining to help determine the cause of diarrhea
For acute diarrhea the goal is to keep hydrated and let the condition run its course. Drinking electrolyte replacement fluids and changing your diet to include more easily digested foods are key to this process.
Persistent or chronic diarrhea requires evaluation by a gastroenterologist. Treatment recommendations are based on the results of the medical work-up and diagnosis.
PREVENTION: Although diarrhea is very common, you can reduce your chances of getting diarrhea by washing your hands and limiting contact with those that are sick.
Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical condition