General Principles

  • Acute diarrhea consists of abrupt onset of ≥3 unformed bowel movements in conjunction with associated symptoms such as tenesmus, fecal urgency, increased flatulence, nausea, or vomiting.1 Infectious agents, toxins, and drugs are the major causes of acute diarrhea. In hospitalized patients, pseudomembranous colitis, antibiotic- or drug-associated diarrhea, and fecal impaction should be considered.2
  • Chronic diarrhea consists of passage of loose stools with or without increased stool frequency and urgency for more than 4 weeks.3

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