What are the Most Common Signs of Diarrhea?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2018
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Diarrhea is a rather unpleasant digestive condition that results in a watery and soft stool. There are many causes of diarrhea, ranging from simple indigestion to more serious chronic digestive conditions. Recognizing the common signs of diarrhea can help determine the problem's origin and possible cures.

One of the most common signs of diarrhea is extremely loose or soft stool. Edges may be ill-defined and blurry, and the stool may float. It may occur following several days of constipation, but what at first seems like a relief can quickly turn into a lingering problem.

Needing to use the bathroom more frequently is another of the more common signs of diarrhea. In serious cases, patients may need to use the bathroom so often it inhibits going to work, school, or other normal activities. Most healthy people produce stool once or twice a day; a significant increase in frequency along with a noticeable change in stool composition can be indicative of diarrhea.


Some signs of diarrhea may indicate a more serious problem then simply eating something that disagreed with the stomach. If there is significant blood in the stool, or the condition persists for more than three days, it may be time to seek medical help. Fevers, serious abdominal pain or rectal discomfort, and signs of dehydration can also mean that a trip to the doctor should be considered. Though most cases of diarrhea do clear up unaided, it is important to keep an eye on symptoms that do not quickly disappear.

Signs of diarrhea in children and babies are often complicated by the appearance of dehydration symptoms. Although diarrhea is not uncommon in infants due to a still-developing digestive tract and the introduction of new foods, contact a doctor if urination significantly decreases, a fever appears, or skin appears to swell due to water retention. Dehydration in children can be quite serious if untreated and should be examined and treated as soon as possible.

While the signs of diarrhea may be easy to notice, the cause of the condition may be somewhat tougher to diagnose. Often, diarrhea is the body's first response to contact with food allergies, including those to lactose, gluten, and nuts. It may occur as a result of dietary changes, medication, or improper nutrition. Some people experience diarrhea as part of a body's reaction to shock; it is not uncommon to develop signs of diarrhea in times of serious fear or worry.

Signs of diarrhea will usually dissipate if irritants are removed, stress is reduced, or a diet returns to normal. Symptoms can be treated with many over the counter drugs that help reduce frequency of bathroom visits. It is also extremely important to drink fluids and increase electrolyte consumption during an episode of diarrhea, as the body often loses a considerable amount of water, salts, and minerals.



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