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Loose stool Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Loose stool. 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 by answering questions that your doctor may ask below:

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  1. How long have you had loose stools?

    Why: to determine if acute or chronic. Acute loose stools (without blood) is more likely to be infectious in nature e.g. staphylococcal toxin food poisoning, giardiasis, traveler's diarrhea, a virus or contaminated food. Chronic loose stools have a large number of causes.

  2. How frequent are the stools?

    Why: the symptom diarrhea may be defined in a number of different ways. Some people complain of frequent stool (more than 3 per day being abnormal) or they may complain of a change in the consistency of the stools which have become loose or watery.

  3. What is the volume of the loose stools?

    Why: e.g. high volume stools may be suggestive of infection (such as E.Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio Cholerae), carcinoid syndrome, bowel polyp, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, magnesium antacids, lactose intolerance or after gastric surgery; small volume stools may suggest inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer.

  4. What is the nature of the stools?

    Why: e.g. fatty, pale colored, extremely smelly stools that float in the toilet and are difficult to flush away is called steatorrhea due to excess fat in the stool and are characteristic of malabsorption of nutrients which may be due to celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, previous gastrectomy and cystic fibrosis.

  5. Does the loose stools persist on fasting?

    Why: may suggest an infection (such as E.Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide secreting tumor, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, carcinoid syndrome and villous bowel polyp.

  6. If loose stools are acute, where did you eat in the 24 hours before the loose stools started and what food have you eaten during this time?

    Why: may help in discovering the source of possible food poisoning.

  7. Have any other family members experienced acute loose stools also?

    Why: may suggest toxic staphylococcal gastroenteritis, Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter pylori.

  8. Has there been recent foreign travel?

    Why: may suggest traveler's diarrhea, cholera, shigellosis, salmonellosis and giardiasis.

  9. Medications?

    Why: e.g. recent antibiotics may predispose to pseudomembranous colitis; medications that can cause loose stools include digitalis, diuretics, beta-blockers, aspirin, colchicines, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications; overuse of laxatives may also cause loose stools.

  10. Alcohol history?

    Why: it is well known that alcohol can cause loose stools.

  11. Blood in the stool?

    Why: If acute loose stools, may suggest Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter jejuni, ulcerative colitis and amebic dysentery. If chronic loose stools, may suggest ulcerative colitis, bowel cancer, diverticulitis, amoebiasis, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

  12. Mucous in stool?

    Why: suggests ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

  13. Fever?

    Why: may suggest Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter jejuni and ulcerative colitis, severe amoebic dysentery or pseudomembranous colitis. May get a low grade temperature with traveler's diarrhea and toxic staphylococcal gastroenteritis.

  14. Severe vomiting?

    Why: may suggest toxic staphylococcal gastroenteritis (which follows 2-4 hours after eating food poisoned with the toxin), traveler's diarrhea and viral gastroenteritis.

  15. Alternating loose stools and constipation, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain that is relieved by opening the bowels or passing wind?

    Why: may suggests irritable bowel syndrome.

  16. Pain in joints, back pain, eye trouble or mouth ulceration?

    Why: may suggest inflammatory bowel disease.

  17. Neurological symptoms?

    Why: e.g. double vision, blurred vision, sensitivity of the eyes to light, poor coordination and difficulty with speaking - may suggest botulism caused by the neurotoxin of clostridium botulinum which flourishes in preserved anaerobic food.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Loose stool:

The following list of conditions have 'Loose stool' 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 Loose stool or choose View All.

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