What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a condition causing loose, watery stools. The condition may also cause more frequent bowel movements. Diarrhea often goes away quickly, but it can also become a chronic problem and may indicate a more serious medical condition.

Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. In these cases, diarrhea is often accompanied by other symptoms, including fever, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. There are also medical conditions associated with diarrhea. These include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Crohn’s disease or celiac disease
  • Small-intestine bacterial overgrowth

Signs and Symptoms of Diarrhea

In addition to loose, watery stools, diarrhea can also be accompanied by:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating and swelling
  • Blood or mucus in the stool

When You Should Visit a Gastroenterologist for Diarrhea

Diarrhea may go away on its own. If diarrhea doesn’t resolve, you should visit your GI doctor if you:

  • Have diarrhea continue for more than two days
  • Are experiencing severe abdominal pain
  • Notice bloody or black stools
  • Have a fever above 102 degrees

How Your Gastroenterologist Can Help With Diarrhea

Treatment for diarrhea depends on what is causing your diarrhea. Your GI doctor may recommend diagnostic tests, including a colonoscopy, stool tests, or blood tests. Depending on the cause of diarrhea, your gastroenterologist may recommend:

  • Prescription anti-diarrheal medications
  • Antibiotics to kill bacteria causing diarrhea
  • Replacing fluids with fluids containing electrolytes
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Eating a bland or liquid diet and avoiding dairy, fatty foods, high-fiber foods, or highly seasoned foods

Ways To Prevent Diarrhea

You can take some important steps to help prevent diarrhea, and controlling viral and bacterial exposure is important. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds:

  • Before and after cooking
  • After handling uncooked meat
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers
  • After coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose

Want To Know More About the Causes and Treatment of Diarrhea?

To learn more about the causes and treatment of diarrhea, call the gastroenterologists at Digestive Disease Physicians in Alexandria, VA. They offer individualized care and timely appointments and procedures. You can reach them in the office by calling (703) 751-5763, so call today.

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