What Causes Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a common occurrence in people of all ages and consists of loose, watery stools. Most cases of diarrhea resolve on their own, however, sometimes this problem can lead to serious complications such as dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.
Symptoms associated with diarrhea may include:
- Abdominal bloating or cramping.
- Weight loss.
There is a selection of different diseases and conditions that can cause diarrhea, including certain viruses, bacteria and parasites, certain medications, lactose intolerance, surgical procedures and some digestive disorders such as IBS or IBD.
Diarrhea can be classified in the following ways:
This is the most common form, and presents as loose, watery stool that can last 1-2 days. Treatment is usually not needed, as it resolves on its own.
May be recurring for several weeks.
This type of diarrhea lasts more than 4 weeks or recurs over a long period of time.
If you are experiencing diarrhea that does not improve or resolve on its own or experience dark urine, rapid heart rate, flushed, dry skin or dizziness, be sure to contact our office as soon as possible.
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How is Diarrhea Diagnosed?
In order to determine the cause of your diarrhea, your doctor will ask you about your medical history, the medications you are taking and your symptoms. A physical exam may be performed, and tests such as blood tests, stool tests, hydrogen breath tests, an upper endoscopy or colonoscopy may be needed to verify the underlying cause of your diarrhea.
Treatment Options for Diarrhea
If you are experiencing persistent or chronic diarrhea, your doctor may prescribe medications or other treatments to help relieve your symptoms. These may include:
Prescription antibiotics or anti-parasitic medicine may help to resolve diarrhea caused by bacteria or parasites.
Treatment for replacing fluids
Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so your doctor may recommend you replace fluids and salts by drinking water with electrolytes or certain juices. For children, Pedialyte may be a good option to prevent dehydration.
Your doctor may recommend taking probiotics, or live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your digestive system, to help reestablish a healthy gut biome to prevent diarrhea.
Treatment of underlying conditions
If your diarrhea is caused by an underlying condition such as IBS or IBD, your doctor will work with you to improve this condition in order to resolve diarrhea.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Diarrhea or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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