Diarrhea is a common problem. Acute diarrhea that lasts for a day or 2 is generally not of a concern. But if you have diarrhea along with fever, vomiting, abdominal pain or fever, then needed to see your health care provider to be evaluated.

What are the causes of diarrhea?

Acute diarrhea is generally defined as diarrhea that is lasting less than 2 weeks most of these cases are caused by viral gastroenteritis. In children, it is caused by rotavirus and in adults, it is caused by Norovirus (this is sometimes called ‘Cruise ship diarrhea”).

Diarrhea that lasts more than 2 weeks is generally called chronic diarrhea. There are many causes of chronic diarrhea. Some of the common ones include-

  • Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Medication side effect, especially antibiotics.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lactose or other dietary intolerance
  • Chronic pancreatic problems (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI)
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Thyroid problems

When should I see my health care provider?

  • Diarrhea lasting more than 48 hours
  • Black stool or bloody diarrhea
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • If you have signs of dehydration

Diagnosing the cause of diarrhea

If the diarrhea is acute and mild, you may not need much testing. If the diarrhea is severe or persistent, then you may need further testing including blood and stool tests. Sometimes, you may need a colonoscopy to determine the cause of the diarrhea.

How to manage diarrhea at home?

It is very important to drink plenty of fluids that has both sugar and salt to avoid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. You may take over-the-counter diarrhea medicine such as Imodium or Pepto Bismol to slow down the diarrhea. These medications should be avoided in people with high fever or bloody diarrhea as they may be signs of more serious infection.

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