Also called: Dysentery, The runs, The trots
    अनुवाद: हिन्दी
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    What is diarrhea?

    Diarrhea is loose, watery stools (bowel movements). You have diarrhea if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. Acute diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts a short time. It is a common problem. It usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer. Then it goes away on its own.

    Diarrhea lasting more than a few days may be a sign of a more serious problem. Chronic diarrhea -- diarrhea that lasts at least four weeks -- can be a symptom of a chronic disease. Chronic diarrhea symptoms may be continual, or they may come and go.

    Who gets diarrhea?

    People of all ages can get diarrhea. On average, adults In the United States have acute diarrhea once a year. Young children have it an average of twice a year.

    People who visit developing countries are at risk for traveler's diarrhea. It is caused by consuming contaminated food or water.

    What causes diarrhea?

    The most common causes of diarrhea include

    • Bacteria from contaminated food or water
    • Viruses such as the flu, norovirus, or rotavirus . Rotavirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhea in children.
    • Parasites, which are tiny organisms found in contaminated food or water
    • Medicines such as antibiotics, cancer drugs, and antacids that contain magnesium
    • Food intolerances and sensitivities, which are problems digesting certain ingredients or foods. An example is lactose intolerance.
    • Diseases that affect the stomach, small intestine, or colon, such as Crohn's disease
    • Problems with how the colon functions, such as irritable bowel syndrome

    Some people also get diarrhea after stomach surgery, because sometimes the surgeries can cause food to move through your digestive system more quickly.

    Sometimes no cause can be found. If your diarrhea goes away within a few days, finding the cause is usually not necessary.

    What other symptoms might I have with diarrhea?

    Other possible symptoms of diarrhea include

    • Cramps or pain in the abdomen
    • An urgent need to use the bathroom
    • Loss of bowel control

    If a virus or bacteria is the cause of your diarrhea, you may also have a fever, chills, and bloody stools.

    Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which means that your body does not have enough fluid to work properly. Dehydration can be serious, especially for children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

    When should I see a doctor for diarrhea?

    Although it is usually not harmful, diarrhea can become dangerous or signal a more serious problem. Contact your health care provider if you have

    • Signs of dehydration
    • Diarrhea for more than 2 days, if you are an adult. For children, contact the provider if it lasts more than 24 hours.
    • Severe pain in your abdomen or rectum (for adults)
    • A fever of 102 degrees or higher
    • Stools containing blood or pus
    • Stools that are black and tarry

    If children have diarrhea, parents or caregivers should not hesitate to call a health care provider. Diarrhea can be especially dangerous in newborns and infants.

    How is the cause of diarrhea diagnosed?

    To find the cause of diarrhea, your health care provider may

    • Do a physical exam
    • Ask about any medicines you are taking
    • Test your stool or blood to look for bacteria, parasites, or other signs of disease or infection
    • Ask you to stop eating certain foods to see whether your diarrhea goes away

    If you have chronic diarrhea, your health care provider may perform other tests to look for signs of disease.

    What are the treatments for diarrhea?

    Diarrhea is treated by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Depending on the cause of the problem, you may need medicines to stop the diarrhea or treat an infection.

    Adults with diarrhea should drink water, fruit juices, sports drinks, sodas without caffeine, and salty broths. As your symptoms improve, you can eat soft, bland food.

    Children with diarrhea should be given oral rehydration solutions to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.

    Can diarrhea be prevented?

    Two types of diarrhea can be prevented - rotavirus diarrhea and traveler's diarrhea. There are vaccines for rotavirus. They are given to babies in two or three doses.

    You can help prevent traveler's diarrhea by being careful about what you eat and drink when you are in developing countries:

    • Use only bottled or purified water for drinking, making ice cubes, and brushing your teeth
    • If you do use tap water, boil it or use iodine tablets
    • Make sure that the cooked food you eat is fully cooked and served hot
    • Avoid unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables

    NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

    Symptoms of Diarrhea

    The following features are indicative of Diarrhea:
    • passing watery, loose stools three or more times a day
    • an urgent need to use the bathroom
    • cramping
    • loss of control of bowel movements
    • nausea
    • abdominal pain
    • bloody stools
    • fever
    • chills
    • lightheadedness
    • dizziness
    • vomiting
    References: 1

    Common Causes of Diarrhea

    The following are the most common causes of Diarrhea:
    • bacteria from contaminated food or water
    • viruses
    • parasites
    • medicines that contain magnesium
    • food intolerances and sensitivities
    • diseases that affect small intestine, stomach or colon
    References: 2, 3

    Other Causes of Diarrhea

    The following are the less common causes of Diarrhea:
    • problems with how the colon functions
    • stomach surgery
    References: 2, 3

    Risk Factors of Diarrhea

    The following factors may increase the likelihood of Diarrhea:
    • recent foreign travel
    • contact with symptomatic persons
    • hospitalization
    • contact with a dog with diarrhea
    • private daycare
    • consumption of products containing formula milk
    • prior diagnosis of several types of atopic diseases

    Prevention of Diarrhea

    Yes, it may be possible to prevent Diarrhea. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
    • use only purified or bottled water for drinking
    • to use tap water, boil it or use iodine tablets
    • eat fully cooked and hot food
    • do not eat unwashed or unpeeled raw vegetables and fruits
    References: 2

    Occurrence of Diarrhea

    Degree of Occurrence

    The following are number of Diarrhea cases seen each year worldwide:
    • Very common > 10 Million cases

    Common Age Group

    Diarrhea most commonly occurs in the following age group:
    • Can happen at any age

    Common Gender

    Diarrhea most commonly occurs in the following gender:
    • Not gender specific
    References: 2, 4

    Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Diarrhea

    The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Diarrhea:
    • Stool test: To check the presence of blood, parasites or bacteria
    • Blood test: To detect certain diseases or disorders
    • Hydrogen breath test: To detect lactose intolerance by measuring the amount of hydrogen in the breath
    • Fasting test: To check if an allergy or food intolerance is causing diarrhea
    • Endoscopy: To find out the cause of diarrhea
    References: 1, 4

    Doctor for Diagnosis of Diarrhea

    Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Diarrhea:
    • Gastroenterologist
    • Infectious disease specialist

    Complications of Diarrhea if Untreated

    Yes, Diarrhea causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Diarrhea is left untreated:
    • dehydration
    References: 5

    Procedures for Treatment of Diarrhea

    The following procedures are used to treat Diarrhea:
    • Fluid replacement: Maintain your electrolyte levels by drinking fruit juices to keep your heart beating
    References: 5

    Self-care for Diarrhea

    The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Diarrhea:
    • Drink plenty of clear liquids: Avoid caffeine and alcohol
    • Add semisolid and low-fiber foods
    • Helps in bowel movements return to normal
    • Avoid dairy products, fatty foods, high-fiber foods or highly seasoned foods
    • Consider taking probiotics: Restore a healthy balance to the intestinal tract
    References: 5

    Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Diarrhea

    The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Diarrhea:
    • Zinc supplementation: Helps in malnourishment or zinc deficiency
    References: 4

    Time for Treatment of Diarrhea

    While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Diarrhea to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
    • In 1 - 4 weeks
    References: 4

    Is Diarrhea Infectious?

    Yes, Diarrhea is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
    • contact with symptomatic persons
    References: 3

    Questions - Diarrhea

    Demographic Information - Diarrhea

    Following is the demographic information reported by website visitors for Diarrhea. Information below may include patient demographics as well as data for website visitors who might be researching on behalf of patients e.g. parents for small children. The data below may or may not be reflective of the complete patient population demographics for this medicine/health topic.
    37 out of 43 users are male.
    Users Percentile
    Participants: 43
    The most common user is 21-30 years old.
    Users Percentile
    < 2114
    Participants: 56
    Marital Status
    Users most commonly report that they are 'Married or domestic partnership'.
    Users Percentile
    Married or domestic partnership2
    Single, never married1
    Participants: 3
    Users most commonly suffer from Back pain.
    Users Percentile
    Back pain3
    Sexually transmitted disease (STD)2
    High blood pressure2
    Hepatitis B2
    Participants: 16
    Body Weight
    14 out of 42 users report that they are overweight.
    Users Percentile
    Not overweight28
    Participants: 42
    Smoking Habit
    41 out of 54 users report that they do not smoke.
    Users Percentile
    Do not smoke41
    Participants: 54
    Alcohol Consumption Frequency
    Users most commonly reported never consuming alcohol
    Users Percentile
    One drink a day0
    Two drinks a day0
    More than two drinks a day1
    Once a week4
    Twice a week3
    Once a month2
    Participants: 43
    17 out of 49 users report that they had significant pain in the last 3 months.
    Users Percentile
    Significant pain in the last 3 months17
    No significant pain in the last 3 months32
    Participants: 49
    Student is the most common profession reported by users.
    Users Percentile
    House Maker4
    Engineer, IT or Software3
    Family business2
    Participants: 31
    Routine Health Check-ups
    0 out of 1 users report that they receive routine health check-ups or physical examinations.
    Users Percentile
    Yes, receive routine health check-ups or physical examinations0
    No, do not receive routine health check-ups or physical examinations1
    Participants: 1
    Missed Health Checkup Reason
    'I am healthy and do not need routine health check-ups' is the most commonly reported reason for not receiving routine health checkups.
    Users Percentile
    I am healthy and do not need routine health check-ups1
    Participants: 1
    3 out of 4 users report that they are taking more than one medicine on regular basis.
    Users Percentile
    Yes, taking more than one medicine on regular basis3
    No, not on taking more than one medicine on regular basis1
    Participants: 4
    0 out of 4 users report that they are have received immunization.
    Users Percentile
    Yes, received immunization0
    No, not received immunization4
    Participants: 4
    2 out of 3 users report that they take vitamins or herbal supplements.
    Users Percentile
    Yes, taking supplements2
    No, not taking supplements1
    Participants: 3
    Exercise Frequency
    Users most commonly exercise once a week.
    Users Percentile
    Once a week18
    Twice a week9
    Five times a week4
    Participants: 38
    Exercise Duration
    Users most commonly report that they exercise 'Less than 15 minutes' each time.
    Users Percentile
    Less than 15 minutes1
    Less than 1 hour1
    Participants: 2
    Like Exercising
    Users most commonly report that they enjoy exercising 'Most of the time'.
    Users Percentile
    Most of the time2
    Participants: 2
    Difficulties in Exercising
    'Proper techniques' is the most commonly reported difficulty in achieving fitness.
    Users Percentile
    Proper techniques1
    Losing weight1
    Participants: 2
    Fruits and Vegetables
    Users most commonly report that they eat fruits and vegetables '1-3 times per week'.
    Users Percentile
    1-3 times per week2
    Participants: 4
    Healthy Food Choices
    Users most commonly report that they make a healthy food choice 'Always'.
    Users Percentile
    Participants: 3
    Eating Out
    Users most commonly report to eat out '1-3 times per week'.
    Users Percentile
    1-3 times per week1
    Participants: 1
    Fast Food Frequency
    Users most commonly report that they eat fast food 'Everyday'.
    Users Percentile
    Participants: 1
    Special Diet
    0 out of 2 users report that they are on a special diet.
    Users Percentile
    Yes, on a special diet0
    No, not on a special diet2
    Participants: 2
    Housing Type
    Users most commonly report that they live in a 'Mobile home'.
    Users Percentile
    Mobile home1
    Participants: 3
    Own Home
    2 out of 2 users report that they own a home.
    Users Percentile
    Yes, own a home2
    No, do not own a home0
    Participants: 2
    Non-emergency Visits
    Users most commonly report that they go to 'Doctor's Clinic' for their non-emergency health issues.
    Users Percentile
    Doctor's Clinic2
    Participants: 3
    Medicine Source
    Users most commonly report to buy medicine from 'Local pharmacy'.
    Users Percentile
    Local pharmacy3
    Participants: 3


    1. NIH Diarrhea - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    2. MedlinePlus Diarrhea - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    3. Ethelberg S, Olesen B, Neimann J, et al. Risk factors for diarrhea among children in an industrialized country. Epidemiology. 2006;17(1):24-30. - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    4. Wikipedia Diarrhea - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    5. MAYO CLINIC Diarrhea - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    6. Source:

    Last updated date

    This page was last updated on 2/08/2018.
    This page provides information for Diarrhea in English.

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