Diarrhea Q & A
What causes diarrhea?
Diarrhea, or loose, watery bowel movements, is a common condition that is not always a cause for concern. In fact, most Americans experience diarrhea at least once a year.
A number of different things can cause diarrhea, which can make it hard to know when the experience is normal and when to seek medical care. Common causes include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Bacteria or parasites present in contaminated food or water
- Certain medications, especially antibiotics
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac Disease
- Thyroid problems
- Other diseases of the stomach, small intestine, or colon
When should I seek care for diarrhea?
Most cases of diarrhea will improve in a few days with self care efforts like drinking plenty of fluids. If you notice the following issues, you should call Dr. Rubin to schedule a visit:
- Continuing diarrhea for more than two days
- Stools that are bloody or black
- Fever of 102° or higher
- Significant abdominal or rectal pain
These can be signs of a serious health issue, and should be evaluated by a specialist in a timely manner.
Is it possible to prevent diarrhea?
Not all cases of diarrhea can be prevented, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk of this and other forms of intestinal distress. A great place to begin is by incorporating good hand washing routines into every day.
When traveling in less developed parts of the world, it’s important to take care to avoid questionable water sources. Stick to bottled water, even for brushing your teeth or rinsing your mouth. Be sure that all meat and seafood is fully cooked to the proper temperature, and don’t consume fruit that you didn’t wash and peel yourself.
What are some treatment options for diarrhea?
Dr. Rubin begins by determining the cause of your diarrhea. He may perform a physical exam, test a stool sample, and go over your health history, including any current medications.
Treatment depends on the source of the problem. Replacing lost fluids is a top priority, and you might need intravenous hydration to rebalance your fluids and electrolytes.
Certain medications can halt diarrhea. Some slow the pace that food travels through your intestines, others balance fluid levels throughout the digestive process.
Other medications work by treating an underlying infection. If your diarrhea returns, Dr. Rubin might put you on a restricted diet to try and figure out if certain foods are triggering your body to respond with diarrhea.
If you experience painful or recurring diarrhea, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubin to determine the cause and begin a treatment path.