Diarrhea - overview

Stools - watery; Frequent bowel movements; Loose bowel movements

Diarrhea is when you pass loose or watery stool.

Campylobacter jejuni organism

Campylobacter jejuni infection causes cramping, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever within 2 to 5 days after a person has been exposed to the organism. Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common bacterial causes of diarrhea. Most cases of Campylobacter jejuni come from handling or ingesting raw or undercooked poultry meat. Although poultry and other birds are not affected by the bacterium, other animals can be. Therefore it is possible for a person to acquire the infection from contact with infected stool of an ill cat or dog. This is what Campylobacter organisms look like through a microscope. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Digestive system

The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

Cryptosporidium, organism

Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite found in contaminated water. It has been increasingly recognized as the cause of outbreaks of diarrhea when water supplies become contaminated. In normal individuals, it is a self-limited disease. Among immunocompromised individuals with AIDS, cryptosporidium can cause severe diarrheal disease, gallbladder disease (cholecystitis), and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).


The most common cause of diarrhea is a mild viral infection that resolves on its own with in a few days, usually known as the stomach flu. Two other common causes of diarrhea is from food poisoning and travelers diarrhea. They occur from eating food or drinking water contaminated with organisms like bacteria and parasites. Medications can also cause diarrhea, especially antibiotics, laxatives containing magnesium, and chemotherapy for cancer treatment.



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