Diarrhea is loose, watery, and frequent stool. Diarrhea is considered chronic (long-term) when you have had loose or frequent stools for more than 4 weeks.
Stools - watery; Frequent bowel movements; Loose bowel movements
Diarrhea in adults is usually mild and goes away quickly without complications. In infants and children (especially under age 3), diarrhea can cause dangerous dehydration fairly quickly.
The most common cause of diarrhea is
Medications, especially antibiotics, laxatives containing magnesium, and chemotherapy for cancer treatment, can also cause diarrhea.
The following medical conditions can also lead to diarrhea:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (
Crohn's diseaseand ulcerative colitis)
Irritable bowel syndrome(IBS) Lactose intolerance
Malabsorption syndromes(such as lactose intolerance)
Other less common causes of diarrhea include:
- Nerve disorders like
autonomic neuropathyor diabetic neuropathy
- Partial removal of the stomach (
- Radiation therapy
Review Date: 02/08/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.