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Diarrhea is a condition in which the sufferer will have frequent loose, watery bowel movements. Diarrhea is an unpleasant condition that almost every person experiences several times per year. It should be the type of diarrhea, the consistency, and the causes that lead a person to be concerned. If diarrhea is very serious and extreme it can be life threatening. 

Causes and Symptoms

Diarrhea occurs when the intestine is not able to absorb enough fluid from the food that passes through it, the water that is left in the passing stool keeps it from becoming solid leading to diarrhea. It is most commonly caused by viral infection or by toxins that are produced by bacteria. In countries or locations lacking proper sanitation this can become a life threatening condition as the diarrhea will often last longer or be more severe. 

Diarrhea can be a sign of other diseases within the body such as Crohn’s disease, a disease that affects the bowel. Diarrhea can also occur as a result of medication, an allergic reaction, something bad found in food, excessive alcohol intake, and imbalances in the body’s nutrients.

Symptoms of diarrhea include a feeling of nausea, cramps in the abdomen, and vomiting. If the stool has any blood in it, or looks black and tar like these represent some very serious problems that must be cared for in a hospital. 

Treatment and Prognosis

Treatment for diarrhea depends on the cause. In acute diarrhea, lasting 4 weeks or less, making sure that the patient has enough fluids and nutrients is very important. If the diarrhea persists and is due to infectious causes such as virus, parasite, or bacteria it may become important to treat the patient with medication. If the diarrhea is due to some other problem within the body it is important to find out what that problem is and address it. This could be as simple as stopping taking harmful medication, limiting alcohol intake, or it could be more serious and complicated requiring very specialized care. In most cases keeping hydrated with fluids that contain nutrients and sugar for the body (Gatorade is a good choice) is important. Medication and dietary manipulation may also be helpful in treatment. If hygiene issues are present it is important to address these. Also sometimes ingesting only clear liquids, with nutrients, before trying to eat solid foods can be helpful.

As there are many different causes of diarrhea, it is important to consult a doctor if the diarrhea is particularly severe or persistent. Given proper management the patient will most often recover with little or no further problems. Diarrhea is usually a fairly routine part of life and represents no lasting problem. It is only severe persistent diarrhea or diarrhea that has blood in it that becomes a problem.