Diarrhea is more than three loose, liquid stools in a single day. It depletes the body of fluids and electrolytes. Diarrhea can be:
If the body loses too much fluid, it can become dehydrated. Dehydration is especially dangerous for babies, young children, and elderly people.
Causes may include:
Risk factors include:
Symptoms may include:
Call your doctor if you:
Call your doctor if your young child:
Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if you or your child has:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may insert a gloved finger into your rectum to examine it. This is called a digital rectal exam.
To determine the cause of your diarrhea, the doctor will ask questions, such as:
Tests may include:
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Treating the underlying condition may help to relieve the diarrhea.
General recommendations for treating diarrhea include:
Plain water will not replace the electrolytes lost through diarrhea. For adults and children, look for age-specific oral rehydration solutions. Avoid fruit juices and soda. For young children, continue with breastfeeding or formula feeding.
Doctors differ in their approach to treating diarrhea. For example, your doctor may recommend that you:
Ask your doctor which dietary guidelines you should follow. As your diarrhea subsides, your usual healthy foods can be reintroduced.
Use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your abdomen to relieve cramps and pain.
Your doctor may recommend medicines, such as:
Children should not be given medicine unless specifically recommended by the doctor.
Diarrhea can cause severe dehydration. You may need to be hospitalized. Fluids will be delivered through an IV.
To reduce your chance of getting diarrhea:
Rotavirus is a common cause of diarrhea in children under five years of age. There is a vaccine to prevent rotavirus. The first dose is given at age two months. Make sure your infant has received this vaccine.
American Academy of Family Physicians
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Celiac disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro..... Accessed March 4, 2013.
Diarrhea. Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydocto.... Accessed March 4, 2013.
Diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea/index.htm. Updated September 24, 2012. Accessed March 4, 2013.
King CK, Glass R, Bresee JS, Duggan C. Managing acute gastroenteritis among children: oral rehydration, maintenance, and nutritional therapy. MMWR. 2003 Nov 21;52(RR16):1-16
Kleigman RM, Jensen HB, Behrman RE, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
Robinson DL, McKenzie C. Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins;2000.
Rotavirus vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/RotaVSB.html. Updated November 9, 2012. Accessed March 4, 2013.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Allen S, Martinez E, Gregorio G, Dans L. Probiotics for treating acute infectious diarrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(12):CD003048.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 3/4/2013
Copyright © 2013 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
Sponsored by iHerb.Com
Positively the best overall value for natural products!