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What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is an increase in the frequency of bowel movements or a decrease in the form of stool (greater looseness of stool). Although changes in frequency of bowel movements and looseness of stools can vary independently of each other, changes often occur in both.

Diarrhea needs to be distinguished from four other conditions. Although these conditions may accompany diarrhea, they often have different causes and different treatments than diarrhea. These other conditions are:

  1. Incontinence of stool, which is the inability to control (delay) bowel movements until an appropriate time, for example, until one can get to the toilet
  2. Rectal urgency, which is a sudden urge to have a bowel movement that is so strong that if a toilet is not immediately available there will be incontinence
  3. Incomplete evacuation, which is a sensation that another bowel movement is necessary soon after a bowel movement, yet there is difficulty passing further stool the second time
  4. Bowel movements immediately after eating a meal
Return to Diarrhea

See what others are saying

Comment from: Nancy, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 09

I had chronic diarrhea for a year. No pain, no blood, just never ending diarrhea. I had a colonoscopy, tested for infection, parasites and still nothing. But I think I've cured it. I fasted for 2 days and the first day, I used a mild liquid laxative to make sure the continual liquids cleaned things out. On the third day, my first meal was a breakfast of homemade sauerkraut. Reseeding my bowel with healthy probiotics, you know. And I've started my days (four so far) with a breakfast of sauerkraut. Today I had my first normal bowel movement! So far, so good and I intend to continue with making my own fermented sauerkraut and having some each day. Apparently it gives you better probiotics than taking a pill.

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Comment from: Doug, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 08

I had chronic diarrhea for a year and tried every over the counter medicines, but they had no effect. My doctor put me on a bile acid sequestrant (Welchol) and I have never had diarrhea and cramps since. I hope this helps some of you.

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Comment from: Miserable, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 09

I go for up to 4 days without going to the bathroom and then without warning I get started with normal bowel movement and it quickly goes to more loose each time they move, up to 2 to 4 times, and the nausea starts. I take Pepto-Bismol until the nausea somewhat subsides. It can last up to a day or more and then I can start eating and the process starts all over again. I need some help here. I have had upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and a colonoscopy about 5 years ago. I still have no diagnosis.

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