Skip to main content

diarrhea

diarrhea (dīərē´ə), frequent discharge of watery feces from the intestines, sometimes containing blood and mucus. It can be caused by excessive indulgence in alcohol or other liquids or foods that prove irritating to the stomach or intestine, by allergy to certain food products, by poisoning with heavy metals, by chemicals such as are found in cathartics, by hyperactivity of the nervous system, and by infection with a virus (intestinal grippe) or with bacteria or their toxins. Diarrhea is a concomitant of many infectious diseases, especially typhoid fever, bacillary or amebic dysentery, and cholera. Persistent diarrhea may result in severe dehydration and shock. It is therefore necessary to replace the fluid lost by the body. Treatment is with a bland diet and drugs that will decrease the activity of the intestines, as well as with specific measures directed at the underlying cause. The elderly are at especially high risk for diarrheal deaths caused by viruses. Ulcerative colitis is an inflamatory and ulcerative disease of the colon, properly described as "irritable bowl," and characterized by bloody diarrhea. Crohn's disease affects the distal ileum and colon, but may occur in any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus and perianal area. The symptoms are chronic diarrhea associated with abdominal pain, fever, anorexia, weight loss, and a mass or fullness in the right lower quadrant (of the abdomen).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"diarrhea." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"diarrhea." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/diarrhea

"diarrhea." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/diarrhea

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.