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Diarrhea - what to ask your doctor - adult

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 dried out (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 some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your diarrhea.

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 okay to eat?

Are there foods I should 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 am taking cause diarrhea? Should I stop taking any of them?

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

  • 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 my diarrhea mean I have a more serious medical problem?

When should I call the doctor?

Alternate Names

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

Update Date: 10/8/2012

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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