There are two general types of diarrhea -- acute diarrhea and chronic diarrhea. Acute diarrhea improves within two weeks. Chronic diarrhea lasts longer than two weeks.
Diarrhea is a symptom, not a disease. There are many possible causes of acute diarrhea. A few of the more common causes include:
- Viral infections (see Stomach Flu, Norovirus, or Rotavirus)
- Bacterial infections, such those involving Salmonella typhi and E. coli
- Parasites, such as Giardia
Specific causes of chronic diarrhea include:
- Certain medical conditions like:
- Certain types of surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery
Sometimes, the cause of chronic diarrhea remains unknown. As long as it goes away on its own, an extensive search for the cause is not usually necessary.
(See Diarrhea Causes for more information on this topic.)