Are you having back pain with any of the following?
We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.
We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.
Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.
Diarrhea is defined as several loose or watery stools or bowel movements a day, sometimes accompanied by cramping.
Most of the time, diarrhea gets better on its own in a few days; however, it can be more severe and require treatment. If the diarrhea lasts more than 4 weeks, it is defined as chronic diarrhea.
Infections by viruses and bacteria are the most common cause, but there are a number of noninfectious causes. The most common complication of diarrhea is dehydration.
In addition to frequent loose bowel movements, some symptoms of diarrhea you may experience can include:
To understand the type and the severity of the diarrhea you are experiencing, we will hear your medical history and perform a medical examination. As part of this evaluation we may ask you questions about:
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and history, we may order stool tests to look for:
If your diarrhea is chronic and we cannot find the cause, we may request a sigmoidoscopy to examine your lower intestines.
There are several types of viral infections that can cause diarrhea. Most acute diarrhea is caused by viral infections, occurs right after exposure to the virus, and gets better without treatment.
Although viral infections can cause diarrhea, most viral infections are not severe. There are some types of viral infections that are serious and can cause diarrhea:
Bacterial infections are caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Some of the more common bacterial types are:
A type of bacteria called Clostridium difficile is found in high concentration after the normal gut bacterial balance has been altered by antibiotics. With this condition, it is common to have:
A more severe form of this condition is called pseudomembranous colitis, which is more common among the elderly and people with weak immune systems. This condition can lead to serious complications and must be addressed in a timely manner.
A number of parasites, microscopic infectious agents that are neither bacteria nor viruses, can cause diarrhea:
Some medications may cause diarrhea, especially antibiotics. If you develop diarrhea after taking antibiotics, contact us.
Diarrhea is referred to as chronic when symptoms last for more than 3 months. There are several conditions that may cause chronic diarrhea. Among them are:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a condition in which the nerves and muscles in your intestines are overly sensitive and are not working in sync with each other. It has many possible symptoms. The most common are:
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system. Unlike IBS, IBD is associated with fever. There are several types of inflammatory bowel disease, including:
Malabsorption. You may also develop chronic diarrhea if your digestive system is not able to digest certain foods normally. Some causes of chronic diarrhea include:
Since most cases of diarrhea are related to eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated, it is important to:
To prevent a condition known as traveler’s diarrhea (diarrhea that occurs during travel to developing countries) there are several steps you can take:
Beverages you can safely drink include:
Prevention of traveler’s diarrhea with medication is controversial. No antibiotic medicines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for prevention. Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed for travel so that, in case you develop traveler's diarrhea, you will have medication with you. For prevention using over-the-counter medicines, some people try:
You can treat most bouts of diarrhea at home. It is important to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. You may also want to avoid foods (such as milk products) that may make the diarrhea worse. There are also over-the-counter medications that help decrease the discomfort, which you can use if your diarrhea is mild and you have no fever.
You should contact us if your diarrhea does not respond to home treatment in a couple of days or if you have fever or abdominal pain.
When you have diarrhea, it is important to drink plenty of fluids that are not caffeinated. Avoid coffee, black tea, and cola. This will help prevent dehydration. If you do become dehydrated, you need to drink fluid immediately. The signs and symptoms of dehydration are:
Treatment of dehydration depends on how severe your symptoms are.
For mild cases: Drink broth, soup, fruit juice, or a sports drink. If you are experiencing diarrhea, you may wish to avoid:
When your symptoms improve, you can resume eating soft bland food such as:
For moderate to severe cases (if you cannot get to a doctor): If you cannot get to a doctor, you may still be able to manage a moderate to severe case of dehydration. It is important to know that sports drinks do not have enough of the kinds of salts that are needed to treat moderate to severe dehydration. Instead, you can make a solution that can help replenish blood salts by mixing the following:
Drink the liquid until symptoms of dehydration are gone or significantly improved.
If you think you are becoming dehydrated, call us immediately.
Imodium (loperamide) is available without a prescription to treat diarrhea. You can use it if you have no fever. Take 2 tablets to start, then 1 after each watery stool, not to exceed 8 daily.
Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) may also be helpful. You can use it if you have a fever. Take 30 mL or 2 tablets every 30 minutes for total of 8 doses daily as needed.
Do not take over-the-counter medications to stop diarrhea if you have been diagnosed with Clostridium difficile or have bloody diarrhea.
For viral infections:
Antibiotics are not effective for viral infections. The only treatment is fluids orally or intravenously (directly into a vein) if you are dehydrated. Otherwise, we recommend rest and home care until you feel better.
For bacterial infections:
Using antibiotics too often makes them ineffective, since bacteria become resistant to them. If your symptoms are mild, we will recommend that you not take antibiotics since your body will likely fight off the infection.
We may use an antibiotic before culture results are available if you have been traveling in an area where bacterial infections are common or you are having severe symptoms like:
Ciprofloxacin is the most common antibiotic used now, pending the results of stool culture testing. Stool cultures or stool toxin tests take 2 to 5 days to come back. A more specific antibiotic for the bacterial infection found in your test may be prescribed once the stool test result is available.
Treatment of chronic diarrhea can vary widely depending on whether it is caused by:
In these cases, we will create a treatment plan specific to your condition.
If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.
This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.