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The symptoms of chronic diarrhea can last for weeks or even months, which in turn may lead to deficiencies of electrolytes, amino acids, vitamins, iron and other substances necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Find out what the symptoms of chronic diarrhea are. How is the cause of chronic diarrhea diagnosed?

Chronic diarrheais a group ofsymptomsof various etiologies. Therefore,diagnostic proceduresshould be planned in such a way as to minimize the invasiveness of tests and at the same time obtain as much information as possible to determine the cause of chronic diarrhea.

Information that is needed to identify the causes of this troublesome ailment can be obtained by conducting a medical history, physical examination and laboratory tests, where the most important are bacteriological tests of the stool and specialized tests, e.g. colonoscopy.

According to doctors' data, despite extensive diagnostics, the causes of chronic diarrhea cannot be established even in 1/3 of cases.

Chronic diarrhea: symptoms

Increased frequency of bowel movements or an increased amount of liquid and semi-liquid stools with an admixture of blood, mucus, or pus.

Accompanying symptoms:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • temperature increase
  • stomach ache
  • weight loss
  • general exhaustion of the body

The occurrence of these symptoms indicates that diarrhea is associated with a serious illness that requires urgent diagnosis.

Chronic diarrhea - diagnostic tests

In order to determine the causes of chronic diarrhea, an interview is usually performed, i.e. a medical history, a physical examination, i.e. a physical examination of the patient, as well as laboratory tests and specialist examinations.

  • Medical history tests - during a medical history screening, the doctor may ask, inter alia, whether the onset of diarrhea was acute (which may indicate post-infectious diarrhea), whether the patient has had bowel surgery, or there has been a family history of chronic diarrhea. The physician should also gather information about the appearancestool.
  • Physical tests - the doctor checks, among others, whether the patient has enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged liver and spleen, whether there are changes around the anus (e.g. abrasive epidermis, skin growths, fissures, fistulas) and whether the patient has club-shaped fingers (this may indicate malabsorption, Crohn's disease and celiac disease). The doctor also carefully examines the patient's skin, because blemishes, swelling or pale skin may also indicate causes of chronic diarrhea.
  • Laboratory tests - stool examination (microscopic examination of stools for the presence of eggs, cysts, parasites, stool pH, reducing substances, electrolytes in the stool); Stool culture - bacteriological stool culture allows the identification of viral and bacterial agents responsible for diarrhea; Blood tests (complete blood count with leukocyte percentage, determination of serum urea and electrolytes, serological tests for celiac disease, gasometry)
  • Specialized examinations - examination of the lower section (colonoscopy) or upper section (gastroscopy) of the gastrointestinal tract and the possible collection of specimens from areas with an altered appearance for histological examination or bacteriological culture. If necessary, you can also perform radiological imaging examinations (which will facilitate the diagnosis of anatomical abnormalities, e.g. abnormal bowel movements), ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging.

Chronic diarrhea - what diseases does the stool look like?

Changes in the appearance of the stools are of great importance, suggesting the probable causes of the observed dysfunctions of the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, you should carefully inspect the stool and pay special attention to its color and the presence of admixtures such as: blood, mucus, pus, undigested food debris, fragments of intestinal parasites that indicate pathological changes.

  • Black stool, ie black stool, indicates bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. The tarry color is caused by blood that has undergone biochemical changes under the influence of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
  • Watery stool indicates intestinal malabsorption;
  • stools with mucus and fresh blood may indicate hemorrhoids, cancer, or inflammation of the colon caused by infection, allergy, or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • A large, pasty or fatty stool suggests digestive disorders usually caused by pancreatic insufficiency;
  • Stool with pus appears in bacterial and inflammatory diseases of the large intestine.

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