What Is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is loose, watery stools (bowel movements). You have diarrhea if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. Acute diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts a short time. It is a common problem. It usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer. Then it goes away on its own.
Diarrhea lasting more than a few days may be a sign of a more serious problem. Chronic diarrhea — diarrhea that lasts at least four weeks — can be a symptom of a chronic disease. Chronic diarrhea symptoms may be continual, or they may come and go.
The most common causes of diarrhea include:
• Bacteria from contaminated food or water
• Viruses such as the flu, norovirus, or rotavirus . Rotavirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhea in children.
• Parasites, which are tiny organisms found in contaminated food or water
• Medicines such as antibiotics, cancer drugs, and antacids that contain magnesium
• Food intolerances and sensitivities, which are problems digesting certain ingredients or foods. An example is lactose intolerance.
• Diseases that affect the stomach, small intestine, or colon, such as Crohn’s disease
• Problems with how the colon functions, such as irritable bowel syndrome
Some people also get diarrhea after stomach surgery, because sometimes the surgeries can cause food to move through your digestive system more quickly.
Sometimes no cause can be found. If your diarrhea goes away within a few days, finding the cause is usually not necessary.