Alternate Names : Stools - watery, Frequent bowel movements, Loose bowel movements
Diarrhea is loose, watery, and frequent stool. Diarrhea is considered chronic (long-term) when you have had loose or frequent stools for more than 4 weeks.
Overview & Considerations
Diarrhea in adults is usually mild and goes away quickly without complications. In infants and children (especially under age 3), diarrhea can cause dangerous dehydration fairly quickly.
The most common cause of diarrhea is viral gastroenteritis, a mild viral infection that goes away on its own within a few days. This condition is often called the stomach flu. Viral gastroenteritis often occurs in mini-epidemics in schools, neighborhoods, or families.
Food poisoning and traveler's diarrhea are two other common causes of diarrhea. They occur as a result of eating food or drinking water contaminated with bacteria or parasites.
Medications, especially antibiotics, laxatives containing magnesium, and chemotherapy for cancer treatment, can also cause diarrhea.
The following medical conditions can also lead to diarrhea:
Other less common causes of diarrhea include:
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