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Chronic Diarrhea

AMBULATORY CARE:

Chronic diarrhea

lasts more than 4 weeks. You may have 3 or more episodes of diarrhea each day.

Signs and symptoms that may happen with chronic diarrhea:

  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement, or loss of bowel control
  • Weight loss
  • Anal irritation and inflammation

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your skin, mouth, and tongue are dry, and you feel very thirsty.
  • You have blood or pus in your bowel movement.
  • You have trouble eating, drinking, or keeping food down.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You feel lightheaded, weak, or you faint.
  • Your heart beats faster than normal or you have trouble breathing.
  • You are confused or cannot think clearly.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have new symptoms.
  • Your symptoms do not improve, or they get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for chronic diarrhea

will depend on the condition causing your chronic diarrhea. Medicines may be given to treat an infection. Medicines may also be given to stop or slow the diarrhea. Medicines that are causing diarrhea may be stopped or changed. You may need to change your diet and avoid certain foods.

Manage chronic diarrhea:

  • Drink more liquids to replace body fluids lost through diarrhea. You may also need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of sugar, salt, and minerals in water to replace body fluids. ORS can be found at most grocery stores or pharmacies. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Do not drink liquids with caffeine or alcohol. These can increase your risk for dehydration.
  • Do not drink or eat foods that may make your symptoms worse. These include milk and dairy products, greasy and fatty foods, spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. Keep a food diary to see if your symptoms are caused by certain foods. Bring this to your follow-up visits.
  • Eat foods that are easy to digest. These include bananas, boiled potatoes, cooked carrots, cooked chicken, plain rice, and toast. You can also try yogurt and applesauce.
  • Wash your hands often. Germs on your hands can get into your mouth and cause diarrhea. Use soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Chronic Diarrhea (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes

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