Diarrhea is the medical condition of having frequent loose or watery stools. Diarrhea causes a loss of fluids, electrolytes, and nutrients which can cause severe dehydration, and can lead to death if not treated. Acute diarrhea is a common cause for death in developing countries, and the second highest cause of infant deaths worldwide.
Symptoms associated with diarrhea
Symptoms normally subside after an hour, but can last several hours. If the diarrhea lasts for several days, a physicial should be contacted. Diarrhea can be serious, especially in infants and the elderly, if the lost fluids and nutrients are not replaced.
Causes of diarrhea
- Gastroenteritis caused by viral infections, parasites or bacterial toxins
- Certain medications, such as antibiotics
- diseases that affect the stomach, small intestine, or colon, such as Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome
Diarrhea often goes away by itself, but can be a sign of a more serious problem. You should talk to your doctor if your diarrhea lasts for more than 3 days. You should also call your doctor if you have
- signs of dehydration
- a severe pain in your abdomen or rectum
- a fever of 102 °F or higher
- stools that are bloody or black