Just about everyone gets diarrhea at some point in life. Experts estimate there are about 179 million cases of acute diarrhea in the United States per year.
Most of the time, the loose stools of diarrhea last a few days and go away on their own. But there are times that diarrhea requires a trip to see our emergency physicians here at Clear Creek ER. Diarrhea may be a symptom of another condition that can be treated. Before we talk about when to seek treatment, let’s cover the basics of diarrhea.
Diarrhea is loose, watery stools that happen three or more times a day. It can be acute, meaning that it comes on and goes away quickly. Or it can be chronic or recurring. Acute diarrhea is more common than chronic diarrhea. Both types can cause you to become dehydrated and interfere with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat.
An underlying problem typically causes diarrhea. Here are a few of the most common causes:
There are times when the cause of diarrhea is unknown.
Other symptoms can accompany the watery stools, including:
If a bacteria or virus caused your diarrhea, you might have fever, chills, or bloody stools.
One common side effect of diarrhea is dehydration, which happens when you go to the bathroom so much that your body loses too much fluid. Because of the possibility of dehydration, diarrhea can be dangerous — even life-threatening — especially in children, older adults, or people with weak immune systems.