Frequent passage of loose watery stool – sign of underlying problem

Bacterial, viral or protozoan gastroenteritis; irritable bowel syndrome; Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis; post surgical; neoplasms; drugs (antibiotics, antacids, NSAID’s, antihypertensives, diuretics, laxative overuse); psychological factors

Clinical features:
Increase in liquidity and frequency of stools
Dehydration can be major problem if last more than a day

Most are self limited – medical consultation warranted if sustained, high fever, bloody stools and/or abdominal pain
Pharmacological – loperamide; diphenoxylate; morphine; codeine
Patient education (hand washing technique to prevent spread; avoid dehydration; avoid certain foods (eg dairy products, caffeine, high fat foods, high fibre foods, alcohol); care with water when travelling overseas).

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