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Diarrhea Diagnosis and Treatment : What to Expect












Self Care

What is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a condition that refers to the passage of loose, watery stools at an increased frequency. It is a common ailment that affects people of all ages and is often associated with symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, and dehydration.

What is the Medical term for Diarrhea?

The medical term for diarrhea is “gastrointestinal (GI) upset” or “gastroenteritis,” which refers to inflammation of the lining of the intestines.

What are the Different Types of Diarrhea?

There are three main types of diarrhea:
  • Acute
  • Persistent
  • Chronic
Acute diarrhea typically lasts for a few days and is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection, food poisoning, or a reaction to the medication.

Understand what your stool says about your health with the help of the Bristol Stool Chart

Understand your Poop health with Bristol Stool Chart

How long will different types of Diarrhea last?

Persistent diarrhea lasts for more than two weeks and can be caused by multiple factors.

Chronic diarrhea lasts for more than four weeks and is often associated with underlying conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.

Other types of diarrhea include traveler’s diarrhea, which is caused by consuming any contaminated food or water while traveling, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea, which occurs when antibiotics disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the gut.

What Are the Symptoms of Diarrhea in Adults?

The primary symptom of diarrhea is the passage of loose, watery stools at an increased frequency. Other common symptoms of diarrhea may include:
  • Abdominal pain or cramping: Individuals with diarrhea may experience abdominal pain or cramping as a result of increased intestinal activity.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Some individuals with diarrhea may experience nausea and vomiting, particularly if the underlying cause of the diarrhea is a viral or bacterial infection.
  • Dehydration: Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, particularly if it is accompanied by fever or vomiting. Signs of dehydration may include dry mouth, increased thirst, fatigue, and dark-colored urine.
  • Fever: Individuals with viral or bacterial infections may experience a fever along with diarrhea.
  • Bloating or gas: Diarrhea can cause bloating and excess gas, particularly if it is caused by food intolerances or allergies.
  • Blood or mucus in the stool: In some cases, diarrhea may be accompanied by blood or mucus in the stool, particularly if it is caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or other underlying medical conditions.
If any diarrhea persists for more than a few days or is accompanied by severe symptoms such as fever, bloody stools, or dehydration, it is important to seek medical attention.
Various Symptoms of Diarrhea in Adults

What is the Main Cause of Diarrhea?

There are numerous causes of diarrhea, including multiple viral or various bacterial infections, food intolerances or allergies, medications, and underlying medical conditions. Some common causes of diarrhea include:

  • Viral or bacterial infections: Diarrhea can be caused by a wide range of viral or bacterial infections, including norovirus, rotavirus, salmonella, or E. coli. These infections are often spread through consuming contaminated food or water or by coming into close contact with infected individuals.
  • Food intolerances or allergies: Certain foods or drinks can trigger diarrhea in individuals who are sensitive to them.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as antibiotics, can disrupt the usual balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to diarrhea. Other medications, such as antacids, may cause diarrhea as a side effect.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can lead to chronic or persistent diarrhea, including IBD, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBS.

Is antibiotics the cause of Diarrhea?

Antibiotics can also cause diarrhea as a side effect, particularly when they disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which can cause a serious infection known as C. diff colitis.

It is very important to identify the underlying cause of diarrhea in order to determine the most effective treatment approach.

How is Diarrhea Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of diarrhea typically involves a medical evaluation by a healthcare professional, who will review the individual’s symptoms and medical history, perform a physical exam, and order any necessary tests or lab work to determine the underlying cause of diarrhea. During the physical exam, the healthcare professional will check for signs of dehydration and perform a rectal exam to check for any abnormalities in the rectum or colon. They may also order stool tests to check for signs of infection, inflammation, or blood in the stool. In some cases, additional tests may be necessary to diagnose the underlying cause of diarrhea. These may include blood tests, imaging studies such as a CT scan or ultrasound, or a colonoscopy.

Can Diarrhea be any color?

The color of diarrhea can vary depending on the underlying cause. In general, diarrhea that is caused by viral or bacterial infections may be watery and light-colored, while diarrhea that is caused by inflammation or underlying medical conditions may be darker in color and contain blood or mucus. However, the color of diarrhea is not always a reliable indicator of the underlying cause, and it is important to seek medical attention if diarrhea persists or is accompanied by any other symptoms, such as fever or dehydration.

How Can Diarrhea be Treated?

Diarrhea treatment depends on the underlying cause and severity of symptoms. In most cases, diarrhea is self-limiting and resolves on its own within a few days. However, it is important to stay hydrated and replace lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration, especially in cases of severe diarrhea. The following are some treatment options for diarrhea:
  • Rehydration: Drinking plenty of fluids is crucial in treating diarrhea. This helps to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through diarrhea. Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) containing water, sugar, and electrolytes are available over-the-counter and can be effective in preventing dehydration. Other fluids such as clear broths, fruit juices without pulp, and sports drinks can also help to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
  • Medications: In some cases, over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications such as loperamide (Imodium) or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) can help to reduce diarrhea symptoms. However, these medications should be used with caution and only under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as they can have side effects and may be contraindicated in certain cases.
  • Dietary changes: Avoiding certain foods such as dairy products, fatty or spicy foods, and caffeine can help to reduce diarrhea symptoms. Eating small, frequent meals that are low in fiber and fat can also help to reduce the workload on the digestive system.
  • Antibiotics: If diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection and alleviate symptoms. However, antibiotics should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider and should not be used to treat viral infections or other causes of diarrhea.
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What can I take to stop Diarrhea?

Self-care measures can be helpful in managing diarrhea, including:
  • Hydration: It is very important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially if diarrhea is severe or accompanied by vomiting. Clear fluids such as water, clear broths, and rehydration solutions are recommended.
  • Eating a bland diet: Foods that are easy to digest and low in fiber, such as bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT diet), can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Avoiding certain foods and beverages: Avoiding foods that are high in fat, fiber, caffeine, or alcohol, as well as spicy or greasy foods, may help alleviate symptoms.
  • Rest: Resting and avoiding strenuous activities can help the body recover from diarrhea.

How to Manage a Child with Diarrhea?

If a baby or young child has diarrhea, it is very important to ensure that they are properly hydrated and to consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist or worsen. In addition to fluids, breastfeeding or formula feeding should continue as normal. Infants may also benefit from an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte.

How to Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea

To prevent traveler’s diarrhea, it is important to practice good hygiene and food safety when traveling to areas where the risk of diarrhea is high. This may include:

  • Drinking bottled water or water that has been boiled or treated with chlorine or iodine tablets.
  • Avoiding raw or undercooked meats, seafood, or eggs, as well as unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Avoiding fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled or washed in clean water.
  • Avoid ice unless it has been made from boiled or purified water.
  • Using a straw when drinking beverages to avoid contact with the rim of the glass.

When to See a Doctor for Diarrhea?

While most cases of diarrhea can be managed with self-care measures and typically resolve on their own within a few days, there are certain warning signs that may indicate a more serious underlying condition and require medical attention. These warning signs include:
  • Severe Dehydration: Signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, dizziness, and confusion.
  • Blood in the stool: If the diarrhea is accompanied by blood or mucus in the stool, it may indicate an infection, inflammation, or other underlying medical condition.
  • High fever: A high fever (above 101°F or 38.3°C) may indicate an underlying infection that requires medical attention.
  • Prolonged Diarrhea: If diarrhea persists for more than a few days or is accompanied by severe symptoms, medical attention may be necessary to rule out an underlying medical condition.
  • Recent travel: If diarrhea occurs following recent travel to a foreign country, it may be a sign of a traveler’s diarrhea or another infection and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
  • Weakened immune system: If the individual has a weakened immune system due to a medical condition or medication, diarrhea may be more severe and require medical attention.
If any of these warning signs are present, it is very important to seek medical attention promptly to prevent complications and receive appropriate treatment.

Which Near Me Diarrhea Specialist I Should Contact?

The Ongo Care telehealth service can be the answer to your diarrhea specialist near me queries, such as physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants who provide remote medical care through telemedicine technology. These professionals may be available to provide consultations, diagnose medical conditions, and recommend treatment options, including prescription medications if necessary. They may also provide ongoing care and monitoring for chronic conditions or offer follow-up consultations to monitor recovery. If an individual is experiencing diarrhea, they may consult an Ongo Care virtual healthcare team member through the platform’s telemedicine technology. The healthcare professional may ask questions about the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and any medications they are taking and may offer recommendations for self-care measures or prescribe medications as appropriate. They may also recommend follow-up care if the symptoms persist or worsen.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the complications of Diarrhea?
Complications of diarrhea can include dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, malnutrition, and in severe cases, kidney failure or sepsis.
What counts as diarrhea on the Bristol Stool Chart?

Types 5 to 7 on the Bristol stool chart are considered diarrhea. These types are characterized by loose or watery stools with little to no solid pieces. Please see to Understand What your stool says about your health with the help of the Bristol Stool Chart.

What's the most effective way to end a bout of Diarrhea?
The most effective way to end a bout of diarrhea is to stay hydrated, eat a bland diet, and rest. Over-the-counter medications such as loperamide may also be used but should be used with caution and only under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
How does Ongo Care cure my Diarrhea?
Ongo Care may offer remote consultations with licensed healthcare professionals who can diagnose and provide treatment recommendations for diarrhea. This may include prescribing medications or providing guidance on self-care measures.
What is the course of treatment at Ongo Care for prolonged Diarrhea?
The course of treatment for prolonged diarrhea at Ongo Care will depend on the underlying cause and severity of symptoms. Healthcare professionals may recommend self-care measures, prescribe medications, or recommend additional testing or specialist referrals if necessary. It is important to follow the healthcare professional’s recommendations and attend any follow-up appointments to monitor progress and ensure proper treatment.