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What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be defined as loose, watery bowel movements and usually happen more often than normal bowel movements. Having loose stools three times a day or more is considered diarrhea. Usually, diarrhea only lasts for a short period of time, but chronic or persistent diarrhea can point to a much more serious complication. Diarrhea can sometimes be treated at home. The most important thing to do is to drink plenty of fluids to replace the fluids being lost during watery bowel movements. You can also include bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast into your diet. If you believe you have a virus or bacteria, antibiotics or antivirals might be prescribed. You can also use over-the-counter medications with your physician’s oversight. However, there are several conditions, diseases, and cancers that manifest themselves through diarrhea. Some of these conditions include colon cancer, Crohn's disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. That is why it is important to not self-diagnose and seek a doctor if severe diarrhea develops. You can find a local gastrointestinal specialist through a GI Alliance location in your community.

What can cause diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a generally common condition. Most of us have experienced watery and loose stools after eating some bad food, during stressful times in our lives, or after starting a new medication. It can sometimes indicate that something more serious is going on in your body. Here is a list of possible habits or conditions that can cause diarrhea:

  • Bacteria and parasites from contaminated food or water
  • Viruses
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Laxative abuse
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Radiation therapy
  • Runner’s diarrhea
  • Some cancers
  • Fructose (difficulty digesting it)
  • Artificial sweeteners in your diet
  • Surgery (sometimes abdominal and gallbladder removal surgeries can cause diarrhea)
  • Malabsorption (trouble absorbing certain nutrients)

When should I visit a gastroenterologist for diarrhea?

When your diarrhea becomes severe, contact a GI Alliance gastroenterologist as soon as possible. Some signs of severe diarrhea include:

  • Diarrhea accompanied by a fever
  • Lasts longer than two days
  • Dark urine and diarrhea
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Vomiting accompanied by diarrhea
  • After a vacation in a foreign country

If any of these issues manifest themselves, it is important to seek professional help. It is better to be safe than sorry. If you feel that you should visit a gastroenterologist because of diarrhea, please do not hesitate to do so.

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Diarrhea could be a symptom of something serious

While most individuals will experience diarrhea at some point during their life, diarrhea could be a symptom of a more serious condition. If you have been experiencing severe diarrhea in conjunction with other troubling gastrointestinal symptoms, it could be time to visit a GI specialist and investigate your symptoms. You can locate a gastroenterologist through the nation's leading physician-led network of GI doctors, GI Alliance. If you are experiencing troubling gastrointestinal symptoms, contact GI Alliance to be connected to an expert right away.

After dealing with gastrointestinal issues for about 3 years now, Dr Hauptman took the time to pinpoint the issue and got me on the road to recovery. I am able to travel and eat comfortably without having to worry about my gastrointestinal issues.

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