Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Watery Stool Evaluation

The evaluation of diarrhea begins with a medical history and physical examination.

Physical findings in someone with diarrhea may include:

Signs of dehydration:

Most cases of diarrhea do not require testing. Tests may be required to evaluate diarrhea that is prolonged, or diarrhea that contains blood or pus.

The diagnosis of an infectious cause for diarrhea must be confirmed through testing. A stool culture is performed on a stool specimen, in order to investigate suspected bacterial infection. Stool may also be tested for C. difficile toxin, which is used to diagnose pseudomembranous colitis. A stool examination for ova and parasites may be helpful to detect parasitic infections.

A stool culture can detect:

Tests that may be used to evaluate diarrhea include:

Continue to Watery Stool Treatment

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Watery Stool References
  1. Aranda-Michel J, Giannella RA. Acute diarrhea: a practical review. Am J Med. 1999 Jun;106(6):670-6. [10378626]
  2. Camilleri M. Chronic diarrhea: a review on pathophysiology and management for the clinical gastroenterologist. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2004 Mar;2(3):198-206. [15017602]
  3. Fine KD, Schiller LR. AGA technical review on the evaluation and management of chronic diarrhea. Gastroenterology. 1999 Jun;116(6):1464-86. [10348832]
  4. Mylonakis E, Ryan ET, Calderwood SB. Clostridium difficile--Associated diarrhea: A review. Arch Intern Med. 2001 Feb 26;161(4):525-33. [11252111]
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