What is Diarrhoea?

What Is Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is the common symptom of many underlying gastrointestinal problems. It is defined as the passing of abnormally liquid or unformed stools at an increased frequency. Diarrhoea may be further classified as acute (if it persists <2 weeks), persistent (if it persists for 2–4 weeks), and chronic (if it persists >4 weeks).

Acute diarrhoea is usually due to a gastrointestinal infection (such as Clostridium difficile). Other factors are also involved: side effect of certain medications such as NSAIDS, chemotherapy drugs, poisoning due to certain pesticides and other environmental toxins. Chronic diarrhoea may be due to an excess use of laxatives, gastrointestinal conditions such as partial bowel obstruction, congenital electrolyte related defects, Addison’s disease etc.

Immediate medical care is necessary in patients passing loose stools for more than six times a day, as there is excessive fluid and electrolyte loss. Inability to restore fluid and electrolyte in the body can have life threatening consequences.


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