Diarrhea is a description for loose and watery bowel movements.  There a variety of sources that can lead to this condition, but diarrhea typically lasts two to three days.  Fortunately most of the symptoms can be improved with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. 

Diarrhea is uncomfortable, but not usually serious, unless the side effect of dehydration sets in.  Dehydration is a significant concern due to the frequency of bowel movements.  As well as the watered down consistency of the bowel movements.  Added together, it means a large loss of body fluids that need to be replaced.  Drinking water or sports drinks (not soda) with electrolytes will help offset the loss of fluid.

 What causes Diarrhea?

  • Bacterial infections. Several types of bacteria exist and are most frequently consumed through contaminated food or water.  This ends up being the source of diarrhea.
  • Viral infections. Many viruses cause diarrhea, including rotavirus, norovirus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, and viral hepatitis. Infection with the rotavirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhea in children. Rotavirus diarrhea usually resolves in 3 to 7 days but can cause problems digesting lactose for up to a month or longer.
  • Parasites. Parasites can enter the body through food or water and settle in the digestive system.
  • Functional bowel disorders. Diarrhea can be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Intestinal diseases. Inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease often lead to diarrhea.
  • Food intolerances and sensitivities. Some people have difficulty digesting certain ingredients, such as lactose, the sugar found in milk and milk products. Some people may have diarrhea if they eat certain types of sugar substitutes in excessive quantities.
  • Reaction to medicines. Antibiotics, cancer drugs, and antacids containing magnesium can all cause diarrhea.


Our Neighborhood Walk-In Clinic is:

  • Walk-in friendly
  • Open 7-days a week 8am-8pm
  • In-network for most Washington insurers
  • Open extended hours
  • Has X-Ray and Lab onsite
  • Staffed by Doctors, Physician Assistants, and Nurse Practitioners