Diarrhea is the second most common reported illness in the United States. In most people, diarrhea is a short-term problem that resolves on its own within a day or two. However, when your diarrhea fails to go away after a few days, it may be a sign of a more serious health issue. Nelson Tajong, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist at Lakeside Gastroenterology in Conroe and The Woodlands, Texas, specializes in diagnosing and treating diarrhea. Call the office closest to you or schedule an appointment online today.

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What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is when you have loose, watery stools three or more times in one day. You may also experience abdominal pain, bowel urgency, fever, nausea, or vomiting with your diarrhea.

Your provider classifies your diarrhea based on the duration of your symptoms.

Acute diarrhea

If you have loose, watery stools that last two weeks or less, you have acute diarrhea.

Persistent diarrhea

When your diarrhea continues for up to four weeks, you have persistent diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea

Loose, watery stools that last four or more weeks, including diarrhea that comes and goes, is chronic diarrhea. If you have chronic diarrhea, it may be a symptom of an underlying gastrointestinal condition.

What causes diarrhea?

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are the most common causes of diarrhea. These germs may cause bouts of acute, persistent, or even chronic diarrhea. Though, in most cases, these gastrointestinal infections resolve on their own within a few days.

Other causes of diarrhea include:

  • Food allergies or intolerance
  • Medication side effect
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Chronic pancreatitis

You may also develop diarrhea after bowel surgery.

Though not always a serious medical issue, you should schedule an evaluation at Lakeside Gastroenterology if you have persistent or chronic diarrhea or blood in your stool.

What happens during a diarrhea evaluation?

The gastroenterologists at Lakeside Gastroenterology take a patient-centered approach to care, and you can expect a comprehensive evaluation when you come in with concerns about diarrhea.

Your provider asks detailed questions about your symptoms, including when they started, the frequency of your bowel movements, and other related symptoms. They also review your medical history and diet and perform a physical exam.

To confirm or rule out a diagnosis to explain your diarrhea, your gastroenterologist may run blood work, stool test, or urinalysis. They may also perform an upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, or endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP).

How is diarrhea treated?

Your provider at Lakeside Gastroenterology customizes your diarrhea treatment plan based on the severity and frequency of your symptoms, as well as the underlying cause.

Initial treatment may focus on replacing fluid and electrolyte losses and diet modifications to decrease the frequency of your bowel movements. Depending on the cause, your gastroenterologist may prescribe antibiotics, an anti-diarrheal, or a disease-specific medication.

You may also benefit from nutritional supplements to replace losses related to malabsorption.

For expert care of your diarrhea, call Lakeside Gastroenterology or book an appointment online today.