ZocdocAnswersWhat are the symptoms of diarrhea?

Question

What are the symptoms of diarrhea?

I'm a young guy and I have kind of loose stool every once in a while - but how do I know if this is exactly diarrhea? I'm not sure whether I should treat it like a recurring diarrhea problem or if that's just the way my body works.

Answer

There is no good definition of diarrhea, as it depends a great deal on the individual person. Stools can be firmer or looser depending on fluid intake and what you have recently eaten. However, frankly watery stools (as opposed to just a bit looser than normal) are basically never 'normal'. The causes of watery stools are numerous. They can include relatively benign things, such as a brief gastrointestinal infection or lactose intolerance (after a large dairy meal). Other common causes of diarrhea include celiac disease, caused by intolerance to gluten. Other symptoms might be weight loss, joint pains, and skin rash. Inflammatory bowel disease can also cause diarrhea. Other symptoms might be blood or mucus in the stool, weight loss, and pain or sores around the anus. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular concerns will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor might be indicated, especially if the symptoms are persistent or not resolving.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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