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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Diarrhea
      Category : Health Centers > Digestive System

Diarrhea

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Diarrhea is a condition in which loose, watery stools are passed more often than normal.

What is going on in the body?

Diarrhea occurs when the colon or large intestine becomes irritated. This can be caused by many things, including infection, chemical toxins, inflammation, stress, or anxiety. The colon responds to this irritation in these ways:

  • The amount of water and mucus in the stool is increased.
  • The amount of water the colon reabsorbs from the stool is decreased.
  • The intestine empties the stools from the body more often.
  • What are the causes and risks of the condition?

    Viruses cause most episodes of diarrhea. Other common causes are as follows:

  • a bacterial infection, such as traveler's diarrhea
  • certain medicines, including antibiotics
  • diet, including an excess of fruit or fruit juice
  • inflammatory bowel disorders, such as Crohn''s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • intestinal obstruction, or blockage, in the lower part of the bowel
  • irritable bowel syndrome, a condition in which the intestines are abnormally sensitive to stimuli

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    Next section

       

    Diarrhea: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/29/01



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