Diarrhea is the common term for loose stools that occur more frequently than normal.
Frequently the stool is watery and voluminous. Diarrhea is often associated with general
stomach discomfort and cramps. Most causes of diarrhea are self-limiting and will improve
over a few days. Some causes of diarrhea may last longer or lead to chronic diarrhea. In
these cases it is important to see your doctor to determine the cause of diarrhea.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Diarrhea is a very common reason for people to see their doctor. Almost everybody
will have the occasional bout of diarrhea. There are several different causes of diarrhea
including bacterial infections, viral infections, parasitic infections, dietary intolerance (such
as lactose intolerance), medication side-effects and other gastrointestinal disorders.
The symptoms of diarrhea include frequent loose stools, watery stools, abdominal
cramping and bloating, abdominal discomfort and blood or mucus in the stool. Generally
diarrhea will run its course after 48 hours. If the diarrhea persists beyond this time it is
important to tell your doctor. Other reasons to immediately seek medical attention would
be severe pain, black or tarry stools, bloody stool, signs of dehydration (dizziness, dark
urine, no urine, weakness, excessive thirst) or high fevers (greater than 102F).
Diagnosis and Diarrhea Treatment
Often the cause of diarrhea can be determined after a careful history and exam by your
physician. Occasionally stool or blood tests may be orders to further aid in the diagnosis.
Most types of diarrhea will improve on their own with home and or over-the-counter
treatments. It is very important to stay hydrated as diarrhea causes a lot of fluid loss. Your
doctor may recommend a particular type of fluid containing electrolytes for rehydration.
Occasionally antibiotics or anti-parasitic medications may be required for infectious causes
How PlushCare Works
1. Video chat with a doctor and tell them about your symptoms
2. The doctor can prescribe a medicine such as an anti-diarrheal medicine or antibiotics and can even send a lab order to get you tested for the cause of the diarrhea.
3. Pick up your prescription at your pharmacy, or go to the lab and give a sample - then followup with your PlushCare doctor to get any other treatment needed.