Diarrhea in Chicago, IL

What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a condition in which you pass at least three loose or watery stools per day (24-hour period). A sudden onset of diarrhea that lasts up to 14 days is called acute diarrhea; whereas chronic diarrhea is loose or waterythat last for over four weeks. Diarrhea that lasts up to 14 days is termed persistent diarrhea.

What Causes Acute Diarrhea?

If you are dealing with diarrhea that has lasted just a couple days and then begins to resolve itself on its own, you’re most likely dealing with a case of acute diarrhea or related to “food poisoining.” There’s a variety of factors that can cause acute diarrhea, including infections resulting from the consumption of contaminated food or water, reactions to antibiotics and food, and side effects of gastrointestinal diseases.

What Causes Chronic Diarrhea?

Three or more loose stools every day for over a month is characterized as chronic diarrhea. The most common causes of chronic diarrhea are linked to gastrointestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, infections, endocrine disorders, and food and medicine allergies and sensitivities.

Diarrhea Home Care.

If your case of diarrhea is not severe, you can manage it at home without having to come in tothe office. Here’s what you can do:

Check for dehydration. If you urinate every three to five hours, and your urine is light yellow to nearly colorless, you’re sufficiently hydrated. But when your urine is a dark yellow, drink extra fluids. Common fluids include water and pedialyte If you can’t consume fluids by mouth, a rehydration solution can be given intravenously.

Adjust your diet. Be sure to get adequate nutrition, and eat starches and cereals, such as potatoes, noodles, rice, oats, foods with salt (broth or soup), and bananas.

Take antidiarrheal medications. These will not cure the cause of your diarrhea, but they’ll help to reduce the frequency. You can take loperamide (Imodium®) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol®, Kaopectate®) without a prescription. Do not exceed amounts on labels. If you believe you are in need of help, please make an appointment as soon as possible. We can prescribe diphenoxylate-atropine (Lomotil®) which is quite similar to the over-the-counter options which may be more helpful.

Use antibiotics. We only recommend antibiotics in rare situations, like when you have more than eight loose stools in a day, you’re severely dehydrated, your symptoms have gone on for over a week, you have a weakened immune system, or you need hospitalization.

When to See a Doctor

Often diarrhea improves within a day or two, and there’s no need to see professional help. However, give us a call if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Stools with blood or mucus
  • Bloody or black diarrhea
  • Temperature above 101
  • More than 6 unformed stools in 24 hours
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Signs of dehydration (sluggishness, dizziness, dry mouth and tongue, muscle cramps, dark-colored urine, infrequent urinating)

We also encourage you to give us a call if you’re over 45-years-old, your diarrhea doesn’t go away after you’ve finished your antibiotics, or you have a weakened immune system or medical illness. We use blood, stool, and urine tests as well as x-rays, colonoscopies, and sigmoidoscopies to determine underlying causes.