Diarrhea describes bowel movements (stools) that are loose and watery. It is very common and usually not serious. Many people will have diarrhea once or twice each year. It typically lasts two to three days and can be treated with over-the-counter medicines. Some people often have diarrhea as part of irritable bowel syndrome or other chronic diseases of the large intestine.
Symptoms of non-serious diarrhea include:
- Abdominal bloating or cramps
- Thin or loose stools
- Watery stool
- Sense of urgency to have a bowel movement
- Nausea and vomiting
Some serious diarrhea symptoms include:
- Blood, mucus, or undigested food in the stool
- Weight loss
How is diarrhea diagnosed?
If diarrhea lasts 2 days or less, diagnostic tests are usually not necessary. If diarrhea lasts longer or is accompanied by symptoms such as fever or bloody stools, Dr. Bhatti may perform tests to determine the cause, including:
- a physical examination
- a stool culture
- blood tests
- fasting tests (checking for food intolerance or allergies)
- sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy
How is diarrhea treated?
In most cases of diarrhea, the only treatment necessary is replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. However, until diarrhea subsides, avoiding caffeine and foods that are greasy, high in fiber, or sweet may lessen symptoms. These foods can aggravate diarrhea.
If you have prolonged diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, or vomiting that prevents you from drinking liquids to replace lost fluids, contact Bhatti GI for an immediate appointment.
Click to learn more about diarrhea.