By: My Nguyen, Medically reviewed by: Dr. Duyen Le.
Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools or a frequent need to visit the bathroom. Depends on how long it lasts, there are three forms of diarrhea:
Diarrhea is very common. The average adult has diarrhea four times a year. Everyone, regardless of age and gender can have diarrhea.
It is also one of the most common reasons for people to seek medical advice, as it can range from being a mild and temporary condition, to one that can threat life. When diarrhea lasts too long without being treated, it can be a sign of serious disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
The common symptoms of diarrhea are:
There may be some symptoms not listed above. You may experience only one of them or any combination of all of them. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
Diarrhea in babies and young children
Diarrhea is a serious illness to your babies. It can cause severe dehydration and results in life-threatening condition in a very short time. You should contact your doctor if you see these symptoms in your child:
Seek immediate medical treatment immediately if any of the following apply to your child:
Diarrhea in adults
You should contact your doctor if you have the following symptoms:
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
There are many causes of diarrhea. Potential causes may include:
Besides medical diseases that cause diarrhea, a few daily habits can cause diarrhea. There are many risk factors for diarrhea, such as:
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination and consider your medical history when identifying the causes of your diarrhea. Your doctor may ask you some questions, such as:
In some cases, they may request you to do additional tests to know more about your condition. These tests may include:
For low-stage diarrhea, the treatment usually requires supplying lots of fluids to make up for the amount that is lost. This means that you need to drink more water or electrolyte replacement beverages, such as sports drinks. In more serious cases, you may get fluids into your body through intravenous therapy. If your diarrhea is caused by bacterial infection, you doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
You doctor or pharmacist may suggest using an oral rehydration solution (or oral rehydration therapy – a type of fluid replacement used to prevent or treat dehydration especially that due to diarrhea) to prevent dehydration. Rehydration solutions can provide your body with glucose, salt and other important minerals that are lost during dehydration. Oral rehydration solution is suitable for both children and adults, which is also available at local pharmacies without prescription.
According to nutritionists from Stanford Health Care, the following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with diarrhea:
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/158634.php. Accessed June 12, 2016.
What causes diarrhea? http://www.healthline.com/symptom/diarrhea. Accessed June 12, 2016.
Diarrhoea. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diarrhoea/Pages/Treatment.aspx. Accessed June 12, 2016.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017