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Symptoms, causes, and treatments for Diarrhea

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Symptoms of Diarrhea

We’ve all experienced it. Loose, watery bowel movements. The repeated trips to the bathroom. The stomach pain.

Diarrhea is common, but it can also be a symptom of several different, and potentially serious, illnesses.

If you have acute diarrhea, it can last up to two weeks. Chronic diarrhea persists for longer than two to four weeks and is likely caused by a medical disorder like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Other symptoms that accompany diarrhea include:

  • Bloating
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

Causes of Diarrhea

Causes of acute diarrhea include contracting one of several kinds of viral or bacterial infections like, as you’ve probably experienced at some point in your life, a foodborne illness.

Acute infectious diarrhea causes include:

  • E. coli
  • Food poisoning, particularly from raw or undercooked foods
  • Giardia
  • Norovirus
  • Rotavirus

Chronic diarrhea is caused by ongoing medical conditions. Common causes of chronic diarrhea include:

  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Ulcerative colitis

Should I Be Worried?

Staying hydrated is important when you have diarrhea for any length of time. Drinking enough liquids can prevent you from getting sicker. Children in particular are susceptible to dehydration from diarrhea, and should be watched closely in case symptoms worsen.

However, seek immediate medical attention if your child experiences any of the following symptoms while having an episode of diarrhea:

  • Diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours
  • Fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Bloody or black stool

Adults should should seek immediate medical attention if the following apply:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Severely dehydrated
  • Severe stomach pain

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