Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools. You have diarrhea if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. Diarrhea that lasts longer than a few days could be a sign of a more serious problem. Diarrhea can be a result of difficulty digesting a type of food (such as lactose), or a side effect of a medication. Diarrhea can also result from an infection from a virus, parasite, or bacteria. In addition, chronic disease of the intestines such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome may cause diarrhea. Colonoscopy and occasionally an upper endoscopy (EGD) are often used to help diagnose the cause of diarrhea.
Diarrhea is typically treated by replacing any loss of fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Medications may be needed to treat the cause of the diarrhea, or in severe cases, to slow the frequency of bowel movements.