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Diarrhea is defined as unusually frequent or excessive evacuation of loose watery faeces.


Acute diarrhea

  • commonest form
  • self- limiting, short lived, lasting within days.
  • Usually due to infection of food and drinks by bacteria, virus, parasite.
  • Implicated food include chicken, sea food, milk and milk products
  • other causes are food intolerance (especially after eating large amount of fruits or beans)
  • antibiotic reactions

Chronic diarrhea

  • recurrent in nature
  • longer duration, more than 4 weeks.
  • watery, bloody or fatty in nature
  • underlying causes could be sinister.
  • maybe due to colorectal cancers, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, chronic infections like HIV, chronic laxative and antacid use, diabetic neuropathy and constipation with overflow diarrhea especially for the bedridden elderly.


  • watery stools of variable nature
  • with or without blood and mucus
  • abdominal cramps
  • urgency
  • bloatedness
  • incontinence
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • alternating diarrhea and constipation
  • loosing weight and appetite
  • pain in joins, backache, eye trouble or mouth ulceration


  • Dehydration
  • Prolonged discomfort
  • Death


Acute diarrhea – mostly dietary modification and non drug therapy

  • Rest the bowel
  • Take small frequent clear fluids such as water or light tea.
  • Take low fat food such as boiled rice porridge, soups, boiled potatoes, mashed vegetables, dry toast or bread, biscuits, most canned fruits, jam, honey and jelly.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee, strong tea, fried food, spicy food, raw vegetables especially with hard skins and cigarette smoking
  • Reduce normal activities until diarrhea stops
  • On the third day introduce small amount of dairy products such as milk in tea or coffee. Also lean meat and fish either steamed or grilled.
  • Avoid use of antibiotics unless organism is identified.
  • Consult your doctor if diarrhea occurs more than 8 hours, passage of stool larger in volume (? 6 stools/24hr) and bloody diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea

  • See your doctor to find and treat underlying cause


  • Take freshly cooked food
  • Practice good hygine especially after toilet use
  • Washing hands with soap and water
  • Avoid pronged use of laxatives
  • Avoid indiscretion use of antibiotics, laxatives and antacids ;
Last Review : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Ruziatun binti Hasim
Reviewed : Dr. Sanidah binti Md. Ali