Having diarrhea entails passing loose, watery bowel movements at least three times in a day, and this common problem usually goes away on its own. Diarrhea is defined as loose, watery stools. People of all ages are able to get it. This digestive disorder may cause a person’s body to have insufficient fluid and electrolytes - chemicals in salt, including chloride, potassium, and sodium - to function in a clear manner. That is known as dehydration, which is capable of affecting muscle activity and other important functions.  [114][115]

Other Medical Disorders Similar to Diarrhea

It is necessary to distinguish diarrhea from four other conditions because they have different causes and different treatments from it. Note that those conditions may coexist with diarrhea. The first one to mention is bowel movements right after eating a meal.  Next condition is incomplete evacuation, which involves a feeling that a subsequent bowel movement is necessary right after finishing one.  The second one happens to have difficulty to pass more stool. [116]

Incontinence of stool is the third condition that isn’t necessarily the same diarrhea.  This one involves the incapacity to delay - control - bowel movements until an appropriate time.  An example of it is holding the urge until you get close to a toilet.  The last condition to explain is rectal urgency.  It basically is the sudden urge to have a bowel movement that is very mighty.  It causes incontinence due to a toilet not instantly handy to utilize.  [116]

Causes of Diarrhea

The following are common causes of diarrhea:  bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections, food intolerances and sensitivities, functional bowel disorder, intestinal diseases, and reactions to medicines.  The most common one is viral gastroenteritis, which in a couple of days can go away on its own.  It is a mild viral infection that is also usually known as the stomach flu.  Lastly, it often happens in mini-epidemics in families, neighborhoods, and schools. [115]

There are medical conditions that may lead to diarrhea.  Among them are celiac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance, and malabsorption syndromes,  There are other less common medical-related causes of diarrhea such as carcinoid syndrome, nerve disorders, partial removal of the stomach (gastrectomy), radiation therapy, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome[117]

If you see your stools are black or if they have blood or pus, then it is highly recommended that you contact your doctor or any other medical professional.  Other reasons will be examined by a doctor as you are experiencing diarrhea:  you have eaten with other people who also have diarrhea, have started on a new medication, have foul-smelling or oily-looking stools, have recently traveled to a foreign country, have abdominal pain that is not relieved by a bowel movement, and have symptoms of dehydration. [117]

Differences Exist Between Children and Adults

Different standards exist between adults and children regarding diarrhea.  Yo should call your doctor if your child has diarrhea and a fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). For adults, the measurement should be above 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius). Furthermore, a child or infant’s diarrhea doesn’t get better in two days or worsens before that indicates a medical professional should be contacted.  It is five days for adults.  Newborns that are under three months old should see a doctor as soon as diarrhea or vomiting starts. [117]

Abnormality in the Digestive System

One of the characteristics of diarrhea, loose stools, can range from watery to a little bit soft. Food is kept liquid by the secretion of grand amounts of water during normal digestion by four internal organs:  the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, and upper small intestine. Colon and lower small intestine are the destination of food that is not digested.  It is in liquid form. As those both organs absorb the water (especially the colon), the undigested food turns into a less-or-more solid stool with form.  Yet, an expanded amount of water in stool can happen.  The three methods for that to simply occur is the distal small intestine and colon do no absorb sufficient water, the small intestine and/or stomach secretes too much fluid, and the undigested food in liquid form passes too fast through the small intestine and colon for enough water to be separated.  Keep in mind that more than one of these processes may occur at the same time. [116]

The secretion of fluid duing digestion of food may increase due to either intrusion  or inflamation of the lining of the small intestine (inflammation stimulates secretion) or by bringing forth chemicals that are capable of stimulating the lining without causing inflammation.  Bacteria, parasites, and viruses are the possible culprits of those two scenarios.  Colitis/ileitis or bacteria can increase the speed with which food moves ahead through the intestines by inflaming the colon and/or small intestine. Moreover, that diminishes the time that is accessible to take in water.  Abnormal conditions of the colon such as collagenous colitis can hinder the colon’s ability to absorb water. [116]

Research and Treatments for Diarrhea

Basic and clinical research into diarrhea and other gastrointestinal diseases conducted in the United States are supported by The Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK).  There are many aspects o research in progress including medicines to impede and treat traveler’s diarrhea, new treatments for diarrhea (probiotics and zinc supplements), and vaccines to prevent diarrhea caused by viruses.  Interested individuals with desire to take part in any clinical trials can get more information by visiting www.ClinicalTrials.gov.  All altruistic participants will get to play a more active role in their own health care, gain admission to new treatments before they are available to the public, and will help society by their involvment in medical research. [115]