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Diarrhea: Introduction

Diarrhea is a very common symptom. Everyone is familiar with a sudden bout of acute diarrhea. Although many people assume sudden diarrhea is "something you ate" (i.e. food poisoning), it is commonly caused by infectious diarrhea (usually a gastrointestinal virus) and also parasitic conditions such as giardia or crypto.

There are also many other possible causes of diarrhea. Surprisingly, even constipation or fecal impaction can cause diarrhea or fecal incontinence, as only watery feces passes around the blockage. Diarrhea can indicate a serious condition and can itself be potentially serious if it leads to dehydration. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about any diarrhea or related symptoms.

Chronic diarrhea refers in medical terms to repeated bouts of diarrhea over a prolonged period, rather than the common usage of "chronic diarrhea" to mean severe diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea is a symptom that can also indicate several serious medical conditions.

It is important to distinguish true "diarrhea" (various degrees of softness of stool) from fecal incontinence, which is an inability to control or prevent bowel motions. Some people will say "diarrhea" when they are really talking about fecal incontinence. In many cases of acute diarrhea, diarrhea will cause (temporary) fecal incontinence, but sometimes they are entirely different issues....more »

» Review Causes of Diarrhea: Causes | Symptom Checker » | Assessment Questionnaire »

Causes of Diarrhea:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Diarrhea. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Diarrhea: Causes | Symptom Checker » | Assessment Questionnaire »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Diarrhea

Home medical tests possibly related to Diarrhea:

Causes of Types of Diarrhea:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Diarrhea:

Review causes of types of Diarrhea in more specific categories:

Review causes of more specific types of Diarrhea:

Diarrhea: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Diarrhea, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Diarrhea Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Diarrhea may include:

  • Adequate hydration
  • Diet of clear liquids- soft drinks, broths, juices, water
  • Oral rehydration therapy- ORS powder
  • Loperamide
  • Bismuth bisalicylate
  • Lomotil
  • Painkillers to counter the pain that can accompany diarrhoea
  • more treatments...»

Review further information on Diarrhea Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Diarrhea

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Diarrhea may include:

Stories from Users for Diarrhea

Real-life user stories relating to Diarrhea:

Diagnostic tests for Diarrhea:

Various tests are used in the diagnosis of Diarrhea. Some of these are listed below :

  • Physical examination
    • Abdominal examination for tenderness and a mass e.g. a mass in the right lower abdomen may suggest bowel cancer or diverticulitis; a mass on right, left or upper abdomen may also suggest bowel cancer; tenderness in the left lower abdomen, with or without a significant mass may suggest ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis or irritable bowel syndrome
    • Examine rectum for hemorrhoids and anal fissure that may be causing a positive occult blood test
    • Examine for signs of systemic diseases that may cause diarrhea e.g. tremor and increased heart rate of hyperthyroidism; considerable flushing of carcinoid syndrome; hyperpigmentation of the skin in Addison's disease; and dermatitis and dementia of pellagra
  • Blood tests
    • Full blood count and ESR, Electrolytes and thyroid function tests - if systemic disease is suspected to be the cause of diarrhea.
    • Salmonella antibodies - not useful in acute situation.
  • more tests...»

Diarrhea: Animations

Medications or substances causing Diarrhea:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Diarrhea as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Drug interactions causing Diarrhea:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Diarrhea as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

  • Misoprostol and magnesium-containing antacid interaction
  • Cytotec magnesium-containing antacid interaction
  • Lithium (Eskalith) and ACE Inhibitor interaction
  • Lithium (Eskalith) and Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (ARBs) interaction
  • Lithium (Eskalith) and COX-2 Inhibitor interaction
  • more interactions...»

Diarrhea: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Diarrhea may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Diarrhea

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Diarrhea:

Assessment Questionnaire: Questions your doctor may ask (and why!)

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Diarrhea. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist here.

See Diarrhea Assessment Questionnaire (19 listings)

Diarrhea: Deaths

Read more about causes and Diarrhea deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be related to food substitute: The food ingredient, Sorbitol, is often used as a sweetener in diet products. In some people, more »

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed, more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, more »

Diarrhea: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Diarrhea

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Diarrhea:

Diarrhea: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Diarrhea: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Causes of Diarrhea listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Diarrhea as a symptom include:

Article Excerpts about Diarrhea

Diarrhea--loose, watery stools occurring more than three times in one day--is a common problem that usually lasts a day or two and goes away on its own without any special treatment. However, prolonged diarrhea can be a sign of other problems.

Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which means the body lacks enough fluid to function properly. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children and the elderly, and it must be treated promptly to avoid serious health problems. (Source: excerpt from Diarrhea: NIDDK)

Diarrhea--loose, watery stools occurring more than three times in one day--is a common... (Source: excerpt from Diarrhea: NIDDK)

Definitions of Diarrhea:

A condition of frequent and watery bowel movements.
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Frequent and watery bowel movements; can be a symptom of infection or food poisoning or colitis or a gastrointestinal tumor
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Increased liquidity or decreased consistency of feces, such as running stool; fecal consistency is related to the ratio of water-holding capacity of insoluble solids to total water, rather than the amount of water present; diarrhea is not hyperdefecation or increased fecal weight.
- (Source - CRISP)

Frequent and watery bowel movements.
- (Source - National Cancer Institute)

Detailed list of causes of Diarrhea

The list below shows some of the causes of Diarrhea mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Diarrhea?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Diarrhea. Of the 2312 causes of Diarrhea that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 18 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 35 causes are "common" diseases
  • 15 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 5 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 79 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 2203 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Diarrhea:

The following list of conditions have 'Diarrhea' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Diarrhea or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #








Conditions listing medical complications: Diarrhea:

The following list of medical conditions have Diarrhea or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.








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Causes of Diarrhea Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Diarrhea based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Diarrhea?

    Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Diarrhea, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

    Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

    What are the alternative names for Diarrhea:

    Loose stools, Diarrhoea
    - (Source - Diseases Database)

    Classifications of Diarrhea:

    Subtypes of Diarrhea:

    Bloody diarrhea (75 causes), Watery stool (63 causes), Severe diarrhea (26 causes), Loose stool (219 causes), Frequent stools (14 causes), Persistent diarrhea (71 causes), Chronic diarrhea (66 causes), Fecal urgency (11 causes), Acute diarrhoea (41 causes), Chronic diarrhoea (37 causes), Malabsorption diarrhoea (16 causes), Travellers diarrhoea (6 causes), Infectious diarrhea (7 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Diarrhea:

    Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Bowel problems (2509 causes), Bowel movements (2383 causes), Stool symptoms (2508 causes), Bowel incontinence (2114 causes), Defecation symptoms (2383 causes), Intestinal symptoms (5299 causes), Lower abdominal symptoms (3048 causes), Digestive system symptoms (5299 causes), Bladder symptoms (1010 causes), Urinary problems (1033 causes), Urinary difficulty (648 causes), Urinary symptoms (1228 causes), Sexual symptoms (1838 causes), Intercourse symptoms (258 causes), Incontinence symptoms (331 causes)

    Symptoms related to Diarrhea:

    Constipation (726 causes), Stool changes (2508 causes), Rectal bleeding (324 causes), Watery stool (63 causes), Soft stool, Bloody diarrhea (75 causes), Vomiting (2819 causes), Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Blood in stool (406 causes), Stool symptoms (2508 causes), Fever (2274 causes), Abdominal cramps (345 causes), Stomach pain (49 causes), Abdominal pain (2568 causes), Abdominal distention (68 causes), Infectious diarrhea (7 causes), Gastroenteritis (35 causes), Viral gastroenteritis (4 causes), Traveler's diarrhea, Bacterial bowel infection, Parasitic bowel infection, Food poisoning, Amebic dysentery, Bacillary dysentery

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Diarrhea

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Diarrhea and many other medical conditions:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Diarrhea:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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