Acute diarrhea

Acute diarrhea is a topic covered in the Diagnosaurus.

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  • Ischemic colitis

Infectious: noninflammatory (nonbloody)

  • Viruses: Norwalk virus, rotavirus, adenoviruses, astrovirus, coronavirus
  • Preformed toxin (food poisoning): Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens
  • Toxin production: enterotoxigenic E. coli, Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus
  • Protozoa: Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Isospora

Infectious: invasive or inflammatory

  • Shigella, Salmonella, Campylobacter, enteroinvasive E. coli, E. coli O157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica, Clostridium difficile (e.g., pseudomembranous colitis), Entamoeba histolytica, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Listeria monocytogenes

Associated with unprotected anal intercourse

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae, syphilis, lymphogranuloma venereum, herpes simplex


  • Drug reaction, especially antibiotics
  • Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease (inflammatory)
  • Ischemic colitis (inflammatory)
  • Fecal impaction (stool may leak around impaction)
  • Laxative abuse
  • Radiation colitis (inflammatory)
  • Emotional stress
  • Malabsorption syndrome

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Last updated: March 5, 2015