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Anyone can get diarrhea. In fact, millions of Americans have bouts with it every year. Diarrhea means loose, watery stools occurring more than 3 times in 1 day. Most cases last a day or two and need no treatment. Find out more about this common digestive problem by taking this quiz.
Acute diarrhea typically lasts only a few days to 4 weeks and usually is caused by a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. Chronic diarrhea is defined as diarrhea that lasts more than a month. It usually is a symptom of another condition such as celiac disease. According to the NIDDK, you should call your healthcare provider if:
Also call the provider right away if:
Diarrhea can be dangerous in babies and young children because of the danger of dehydration. Don't give your child antidiarrhea medicine without checking with the provider first. Medicines for adults may be dangerous when given to children.
Francesca Torriani, MD
Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Clinical Epidemiology
UC San Diego | School of Medicine