A familiar phenomenon with unusually frequent or unusually liquid bowel movements, excessive watery evacuations of fecal material. The opposite of constipation. The word “diarrhea” with its odd spelling is a near steal from the Greek “diarrhoia” meaning “a flowing through.” Plato and Aristotle may have had diarrhoia while today we have diarrhea. There are myriad infectious and noninfectious causes of diarrhea. Persistent diarrhea is both uncomfortable and dangerous to the health, as it can indicate an underlying infection. It may also mean that the body is not able to absorb some nutrients due to a problem in the bowels. Treatment includes drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, over-the-counter remedies in most cases, and medical examination if diarrhea persists for more than a couple of days, particularly in small children or elderly people.
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An abnormally frequent discharge of semisolid or fluid fecal matter from the bowel. [G. diarrhoia, fr. dia, through, + rhoia, a flow, a flux]
- cachectic d. d. occurring in patients with severe wasting. Usually due to underlying gastrointestinal disease.
- choleraic d. SYN: summer d..
- chronic bacillary d. prolonged d. occurring in association with bacterial infection, usually occurring in patients with gastrointestinal stasis, allowing bacterial proliferation in the intestine with secondary malabsorption. Occurs in blind-loop syndrome after intestinal surgery, following vagotomy, and occasionally in scleroderma or diabetes.
- Cochin China d. obsolete term for tropical sprue.
- colliquative d. d. associated with excessive discharge of fluid.
- dientamoeba d. d. thought to be due to infection with the flagellate, Dientamoeba fragilis.
- dysenteric d. d. in bacillary or amebic dysentery.
- fatty d. d. seen in malabsorption syndromes including chronic pancreatic disease, characterized by foul smelling stools with increased fat content that usually float in water. SYN: pimelorrhea.
- flagellate d. d. due to infection with flagellate Giardia lamblia.
- gastrogenous d. a d. that may occur in achylia gastrica, or that is caused by excess secretion of gastric and other intestinal juices.
- lienteric d. d. in which undigested food appears in the stools.
- morning d. a form in which there are several loose stools in the early morning and during the forenoon, the bowels being quiet during the remainder of the day and night.
- mucous d. d. with the presence of considerable mucus in the stools.
- nocturnal d. d. that occurs chiefly at night, usually in association with diabetic autonomic neuropathy.
- pancreatic d. SYN: d. pancreatica.
- d. pancreatica (pan-kre-a′ti-ka) d. characterized by severe, watery, secretory d. and hyperkalemia; most patients have hypercalcemia, many have hyperglycemia; results from excessive secretion of VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) by an islet cell tumor of the pancreas. Sometimes called WDHA syndrome. See Verner-Morrison syndrome, WDHA syndrome. SYN: pancreatic cholera, pancreatic d..
- pancreatogenous d. d. in which the stools are bulky, pale, foul, greasy, and oily, as a result of malabsorption of fat due to deficient secretion of pancreatic enzymes in chronic pancreatitis.
- serous d. d. characterized by watery stools.
- summer d. d. of infants in hot weather, usually an acute gastroenteritis due to the presence of Shigella or Salmonella. SYN: choleraic d..
- toddler's d. recurrent loose stools usually seen in otherwise healthy, normally growing children between the ages of 1 and 3 years, and occurring in daytime; often due to excessive fluid intake.
- traveler's d. d. of sudden onset, often accompanied by abdominal cramps, vomiting, and fever, occurring sporadically in travelers usually during the first week of a trip; most commonly caused by unfamiliar strains of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.
- tropical d. SYN: tropical sprue.

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di·ar·rhea or chiefly Brit di·ar·rhoea .dī-ə-'rē-ə n abnormally frequent intestinal evacuations with more or less fluid stools

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di·ar·rhea (di″ə-reґə) [dia- + -rrhea] abnormal frequency and liquidity of fecal discharges. diarrheal, diarrheic, diarrhetic adj

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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