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Diarrhea is described as an increase in the frequency of bowel movements or a decrease in the consistency of stools that causes the discharge of watery, loose stools. The severity of diarrhea is determined by the size and number of stools passed within a period of time.
Severe diarrhea has many causes. Stomach flu (gastroenteritis) orfood poisoningmay cause severe diarrhea. Drinkinguntreated waterthat contains the Giardia lamblia parasite can cause diarrhea that develops 1 to 4 weeks later.
Severe diarrhea increases your risk ofdehydrationby causing your body to lose large amounts of fluid quickly. Be sure to increase your intake of fluids, such as water or arehydration drink, and to watch for symptoms of dehydration.
Persistent diarrhea can have many causes, including dietary changes, stress,irritable bowel syndrome, and certainmedicines. Occasionally, persistent diarrhea can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as a chronic infection,inflammatory bowel disease, amalabsorption syndrome, orcolorectal cancer.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofNovember 20, 2017
Current as of: November 20, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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