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You are here : AllRefer.com > Health > Medical Symptoms > Diarrhea

Diarrhea

Alternate Names : Stools - watery, Frequent bowel movements, Loose bowel movements


Definition

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.

Common Causes

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:

Pictures & Images

Campylobacter jejuni organism
Campylobacter jejuni organism

Digestive system
Digestive system

Cryptosporidium, organism
Cryptosporidium, organism

Diarrhea
Diarrhea

 
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Review Date : 2/19/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.



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