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Diarrhea -- loose, watery stools occurring more than three times in one day -- is a common problem that usually lasts a day or two and goes away on its own without any special treatment. However, prolonged diarrhea can be a sign of other problems. Diarrhea is considered chronic (ongoing or prolonged) when you have had loose or frequent stools for longer than four weeks.

Diarrhea in adults is usually mild and resolves quickly without complication. In infants and children (especially under age 3), diarrhea is more concerning because they can become dehydrated fairly quickly.

Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which means the body lacks enough fluid to function properly. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children and the elderly, and it must be treated promptly to avoid serious health problems.

People of all ages can get diarrhea. The average adult has a bout of diarrhea about four times a year. Diarrhea may be caused by a temporary problem, like an infection, or a chronic problem, like an intestinal disease.

Find out more about diarrhea by clicking on the topics below.

  What is Diarrhea  

  What Causes Diarrhea  

  Self Care for Diarrhea  


  Montezuma's Revenge  

  Practical Tips  

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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12