Have you possibly been exposed to well or stream water or spoiled food?
What makes your pain worse? Stress? Certain foods?
Have you had abdominal surgery?
Have you taken antibiotics recently?
What medications do you take?
Do you drink coffee or alcohol, and if so, how much?
Do you smoke? How much each day?
Are you on a special diet?
Laboratory tests may be done on your stools to determine the cause of your diarrhea.
Over-the-counter supplements that contain healthy bacteria, called probiotics, may help prevent diarrhea associated with antibiotics. Yogurt with active or live cultures is a good source of these healthy bacteria.
The following healthy steps can help you prevent illnesses that cause diarrhea:
Wash your hands often, especially after going to the bathroom and before eating.
Use alcohol-based hand gel frequently.
Teach children to not put objects in their mouth.
When traveling to underdeveloped areas, follow the steps below to avoid diarrhea:
Drink only bottled water and do not use ice, unless it is made from bottled or purified water.
Do NOT eat uncooked vegetables or fruits that do not have peels.
Do NOT eat raw shellfish or undercooked meat.
Do NOT consume dairy products.
Schiller RL, Sellin JH. Diarrhea. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 15.
Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2011:chap 142.
George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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