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Chronic Diarrhea, Ambulatory Care

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Chronic diarrhea

happens when diarrhea occurs 3 or more times a day for more than 4 weeks.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement or loss of bowel control
  • Blood, mucous, or pus in your bowel movement
  • Weight loss
  • Anal irritation and inflammation

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Thirst and dry skin, mouth, and tongue
  • Blood or pus in your bowel movement
  • Trouble eating, drinking, or keeping food down
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Lightheadedness, weakness, or fainting
  • Unusually fast heartbeat or trouble breathing
  • Confusion or trouble thinking clearly

Treatment for chronic diarrhea

includes drinking more liquids to replace body fluids lost through diarrhea. You may 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. Medicines may be needed to decrease the amount of diarrhea you are having or to slow down how fast the intestine is moving.

Care for chronic diarrhea:

  • Do not eat foods that cause your diarrhea. If you know which foods cause your diarrhea, do not eat them. If you do not know what causes your diarrhea, keep a food diary to see if your symptoms are caused by certain foods. Bring this to your follow-up visits.
  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration. You may need an ORS. This 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 or eat foods that contain caffeine or alcohol. These may cause your symptoms to be worse and lead to dehydration.
  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Germ-killing hand gel is available if you are not near water. 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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