Epidemiology And Etiology

Most cases of diarrhea in adults are mild and resolve quickly. Infants and children (especially under 3 years of age) are highly susceptible to the dehydrating effect of diarrhea, and its occurrence in this age group should be taken seriously.

Acute Diarrhea

Acute diarrhea has many possible causes, but infection is the most common. Infectious diarrhea occurs because of food and water contamination via the fecal-oral route. Viruses are the cause in a large proportion of cases. Likely viral suspects include Ro-tavirus, Norwalk, and adenovirus. Patients usually exhibit sudden low-grade fever, vomiting, and watery stools.

Bacterial precipitants in many other cases include Escherichia coli, Salmonella species, Shigella species, Vibrio cholerae, and Clostridium difficile. The term dysentery describes some of these bacterial infections when associated with serious occurrences of bloody diarrhea. Additionally, acute diarrheal conditions can be prompted by parasites-protozoa such as Entamoeba histolytica, Microsporidium, Giardia lam-blia, and Cryptosporidium parvum. Most of these infectious agents can cause traveler's diarrhea, a common malady afflicting travelers worldwide. It usually occurs during or just after travel following the ingestion of fecally contaminated food or water. It has an abrupt onset but usually subsides within 2 to 3 days.

Noninfectious causes of acute diarrhea include drugs and toxins (Table 21-3), laxative abuse, food intolerance, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, ischemic bowel disease, lactase deficiency, Whipple's disease, pernicious anemia, diabetes mellitus, malabsorption, fecal impaction, diverticulosis, and celiac sprue.

Table 21-3 Selected Drugs and Substances That May Cause Acute Diarrhea

Diabetes 2

Diabetes 2

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...

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