Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia LLC

Gastroenterologists located in Macon, Gray, Warner Robins, and Milledgeville, GA

Diarrhea is common and affects as many as 179 million Americans every year — most cases of diarrhea resolve with at-home care within a few days. However, if your diarrhea is lasting longer than expected or is accompanied by severe abdominal pain or bloody stools, you should seek medical help. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia conduct comprehensive evaluations using the most advanced diagnostic tools to help you get the answers you need. Call the office in Macon, Georgia today.

Diarrhea Q & A

What is diarrhea?

If you’re having loose, watery stools more than three times a day, then you’re experiencing diarrhea. You may also experience abdominal cramping and pain, along with the changes in your stools. 

Your diarrhea is categorized based on how long you’ve been experiencing symptoms:

Acute diarrhea

Acute diarrhea is the most common and generally only lasts one to two days.

Persistent diarrhea

Persistent diarrhea refers to loose, watery bowel movements that last more than two weeks, but less than four weeks.

Chronic diarrhea

If you’ve been experiencing diarrhea for more than four weeks, then you have chronic diarrhea.

Whether it’s acute, persistent, or chronic, diarrhea can lead to dehydration due to fluid loss. Severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention, especially in children and the elderly. Diarrhea may also lead to malabsorption, which can cause nutrient deficiencies if your loose stools are persistent or chronic.

What causes diarrhea?

Diarrhea isn’t a disease but is a symptom of an underlying health issue that may be acute or chronic. Common causes of diarrhea include:

Bacterial, parasitic, or viral infectionUse of certain medicationsFood sensitivities or intolerancesIrritable bowel syndromeCeliac diseaseInflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)

You can also develop diarrhea following gastrointestinal surgery. 

What can I expect during a diarrhea evaluation?

The team at Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia conducts thorough examinations when you come to the office due to concerns about stomach cramping and loose stools. During your evaluation, the team reviews your symptoms and medical history and performs a physical exam. 

To confirm or rule out the cause of your diarrhea, the team may request diagnostic tests, such as:

A stool sampleBlood testsUpper gastrointestinal endoscopyColonoscopyFlexible sigmoidoscopy

If the team suspects a food sensitivity or intolerance, specific tests may be requested, such as a hydrogen breath test to assess for lactose intolerance or a fasting test to determine the food responsible for your symptoms. 

How is diarrhea treated?

Initially, the team at Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia may focus treatment on restoring lost fluids. They may also suggest you modify your diet to limit foods that may exacerbate your symptoms, such as fried foods or dairy.

Treatment may focus on the underlying cause of your diarrhea and include disease-specific medication to help clear up an infection or control the diarrhea.

For a comprehensive evaluation of your diarrhea, call Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia today.