Know the Symptoms of Diarrhea and When to See a Doctor
Tests for Diarrhea
Most diarrhea goes away on its own in a few days. When diarrhea lasts for longer, tests are needed to find out what’s causing it so proper treatment can be administered.
A visit to the doctor for diarrhea will consist of a physical examination and a full medical history, including a review of your medication. A physician will also carefully feel your abdomen and perform a rectal exam.
Additionally, testing may include:
- Blood Test A complete blood count can show signs of infection, anemia, inflammation, or imbalances of electrolytes, to help determine the cause of your diarrhea.
- Stool Test This might be recommended to determine whether bacteria or a parasite is causing your diarrhea. A healthcare professional will give you containers for catching and storing your stool samples, as well as instructions on where to send or take the containers for analysis. (2)
- Hydrogen Breath Test This test is used to diagnose lactose intolerance by measuring the amount of hydrogen in your breath. Under normal circumstances, little hydrogen is detectable in the breath. However, when someone is lactose intolerant, undigested lactose produces high levels of hydrogen in the breath. The test involves drinking a beverage with a known amount of lactose and then breathing into a balloon-type container to measure breath hydrogen levels. A high level of hydrogen will lead to a diagnosis of lactose intolerance.
- Fasting Test This will help determine if a food intolerance or allergy is the cause of your diarrhea. Your physician may ask you to avoid certain foods, including dairy, wheat, carbohydrates, or other ingredients in an effort to see if your symptoms of diarrhea respond to those diet changes. (3)
- Colonoscopy or Sigmoidoscopy These are both tests involving a lighted tube with a camera. A colonoscopy involves following a special diet the day before the exam, typically with no solid foods and usually not eating or drinking anything after midnight the night before the exam. You may also need to take a laxative in either pill or liquid form or use an enema kit to empty your colon. During the procedure, for which you are sedated, the tube is inserted into the rectum and the camera gives the doctor a view of the inside of the entire colon to check for abnormalities. A sigmoidoscopy is a similar procedure but looks at the rectum and lower portion of the colon only.
Video: Infant Medical Care : Infant Diarrhea Symptoms
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