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Diarrhea - what to ask your doctor - adult

Definition

Diarrhea is when you have more than three very loose bowel movements in 1 day. For many, diarrhea is mild and will pass within a few days. For others, it may last longer. It can make you feel weak and dehydrated. It can also lead to unhealthy weight loss.

A stomach or intestinal illness can cause diarrhea. It can be a side effect of medical treatments, such as antibiotics and some cancer treatments.

Below are questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your diarrhea.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about diarrhea - adult; Loose stools - what to ask your doctor - adult

Questions

What foods can make my problem worse?

  • Can I eat dairy foods?
  • Can I have greasy or spicy foods?
  • What type of gum or candy should I avoid?
  • Can I have caffeine, such as coffee or tea? Fruit juices? Carbonated drinks?
  • Which fruits or vegetables are OK to eat?

Are there foods I can eat so I do not lose too much weight?

How much water or liquid should I drink during the day? What are the signs that I am not drinking enough water?

Do any of the medicines, vitamins, herbs, or supplements I take cause diarrhea? Should I stop taking any of them?

What products can I buy to help with my diarrhea? What is the best way to take these?

  • What is the best way to take these products?
  • Which ones can I take every day?
  • Which ones should I not take every day?
  • Can any of these products make my diarrhea worse?
  • Should I take psyllium fiber (Metamucil)?

Does diarrhea mean I have a more serious medical problem?

When should I call the doctor?


Review Date: 10/13/2013
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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