7 Common Symptoms and Signs of Diarrhea

Causes of diarrhea include viral and bacterial infections, as well as parasites, intestinal disorders or diseases (such as irritable bowel syndrome [IBS]), reactions to medications, and food intolerance


Facts and Definition of Diarrhea

  • Diarrhea is the frequent passage of loose, watery, soft stools with or without abdominal bloating, pressure, and cramps commonly referred to as gas or flatulence.
  • Seek medical care if severe abdominal painfeverdehydrationrectal bleeding, sleepiness, or vomiting accompany the diarrhea. People who have diarrhea and are pregnant or have underlying medical conditions should also see a doctor.
  • Treatment of diarrhea depends upon the cause of the loose stools, as well as the patient's general health.

Causes of diarrhea include viral and bacterial infections, as well as parasites, intestinal disorders or diseases (such as irritable bowel syndrome [IBS]), reactions to medications, and food intolerance. The main symptom of diarrhea is watery, liquid stools. In addition, other symptoms of diarrhea include the following:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Bloating
  • Bowel movement urgency
  • Dehydration

Diarrhea is usually diagnosed by the appearance of the symptoms, and no tests may need to be ordered. In some cases a doctor may order a stool culture, blood tests, a colonoscopy, or imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans to determine an underlying cause.

In most cases, diarrhea can be treated at home and it will resolve itself in a few days. Drink plenty of fluids, and follow the "BRAT" diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) to help ease symptoms. Take care to ensure infants and children stay hydrated. Electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte can be helpful.

Over-the-counter (OTC) antidiarrheal medications may provide some relief of symptoms, including loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-BismolKaopectate, etc.). Consult your doctor before treating diarrhea with these drugs, as some people may need to avoid them. Do not give them to children under 5 years of age. The prognosis for diarrhea is generally good and in most cases symptoms will resolve in a few days.

Diarrhea is the frequent passage of loose, watery, soft stools with or without abdominal bloating, pressure, and cramps commonly referred to as gas. It can come on suddenly, run its course, and be helped with home care to prevent complications such as dehydration.

  • Diarrhea is one of the most common illnesses in all age groups and ranks along with the common cold as a main cause of lost days of work or school.
    • People of all ages can suffer from the condition, and the average adult has one episode of acute diarrhea per year, and young children average two acute episodes per year.
  • Diarrhea and related complications can cause severe illness. The most significant cause of severe illness is loss of water and electrolytes. In diarrhea, fluid passes out of the body before it can be absorbed by the intestines. When the ability to drink fluids fast enough to compensate for the water loss because of diarrhea is impaired, dehydration can result. Most deaths from diarrhea occur in the very young and the elderly whose health may be put at risk from a moderate amount of dehydration.
  • Diarrhea can be further defined in the following ways:
    • chronic diarrhea is the presence of loose or liquid stools for over two weeks;
    • acute enteritis is inflammation of the intestine;
    • viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) is a type of infectious diarrhea associated with nausea and vomiting; or
    • dysentery is a type of diarrhea that contains blood, pus, or mucus

      7 Common Symptoms and Signs of Diarrhea

      • Watery, liquid stools: The stools may be any color. The passage of red stools suggests intestinal bleeding and could be a sign of a more severe infection. The passage of thick, tarry black stools suggests significant bleeding in the stomach or upper portions of the intestine and is not usually caused by acute infections. Diarrhea may appear green in color because stool passes through the intestines faster than usual.
      • Abdominal cramps: Occasionally diarrhea is accompanied by mild-to-moderate abdominal pain. Severe abdominal or stomach pain is not common and, if present, may suggest more severe disease.
      • Fever: A high fever is not common. If present, the affected person may have a more severe illness than acute diarrhea.
      • Bloating and gas
      • The urgent feeling or need to have a bowel movement
      • Dehydration: If diarrhea leads to dehydration, it is a sign of potentially serious disease. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include the following:
        • Adults may be very thirsty and have a dry mouth.
        • The skin of older people may appear to be loose. The elderly may also become very sleepy or have behavioral changes and confusion when dehydrated.
        • Dehydrated infants and children may have sunken eyes, dry mouths, and urinate less frequently than usual. They may appear very sleepy or may refuse to eat or drink.
      • Certain infections may cause diarrhea that may also be accompanied by bloody stools, fever and chills, lightheadedness and dizziness, and vomiting.
      • source:https://www.emedicinehealth.com/diarrhea/article_em.htm

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