Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio
Nicholas P. Martinez, MD
Gastroenterologist located in San Antonio, TX
Diarrhea is an inconvenient and often uncomfortable symptom that everybody experiences now and then, but if you’re suffering from persistent diarrhea or other symptoms, you should see a doctor to check what’s causing the problem. Nicholas Martinez, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio who has great compassion for his patients. Whether you have persistent diarrhea or chronic constipation, Dr. Martinez can help. Schedule an appointment at his San Antonio office online or by phone today.
Diarrhea Q & A
What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea means having loose, watery stools, and it’s something everyone experiences a few times a year. Most often it’s nothing to worry about, and it either clears up by itself, or you can treat it with over-the-counter medication.
You may experience other symptoms when you have diarrhea as well, such as:
- Abdominal cramps
- An urgent need for a bowel movement
- Nausea and vomiting
Diarrhea most commonly occurs due to a viral infection in your intestinal tract, commonly known as stomach flu. Most cases of stomach flu resolve in a few days with rest, but it’s essential to keep up your intake of fluids, as diarrhea can lead to dehydration.
Could my diarrhea be due to other causes?
There are many other possible causes for diarrhea, including:
- Food allergies
- Eating rich or spicy food
- Alcohol abuse
- Food poisoning
- Taking too many laxatives
- Malabsorption, where your body can’t digest certain types of food properly.
Taking certain medications might cause either constipation or diarrhea, and people undergoing radiation therapy may also suffer from diarrhea. If you take prescription medication that’s causing side effects, consult your doctor for advice.
Several medical conditions can also cause diarrhea, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Crohn's disease
- Ulcerative colitis (UC)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Some cancers
Diarrhea may develop after a bout of constipation, especially if you have IBS. Constipation occurs when your stool dries out and is hard to expel. Severe constipation can lead to impaction, where the hardened stool forms a solid plug in the rectum.
This can be painful and distressing, and may need treatment with laxative suppositories. If you have an impaction, you may also get leakage of watery stools that you can’t control.
Do I need to see my doctor if I have diarrhea?
Most times your diarrhea won’t be a sign of anything serious, but if it doesn’t clear up in a few days, you have a fever of over 101ºF, you’re experiencing severe abdominal pain, or you’re passing blood, you should see Dr. Martinez.
Nausea and vomiting can prevent you from taking in enough liquid, so look out for signs of dehydration.
How is diarrhea treated?
Dr. Martinez needs to find the cause of your diarrhea before he can advise you on treatment, so at your consultation, he may take samples of your stool for testing. He may also carry out other diagnostic tests to determine the cause.
Once Dr. Martinez makes a diagnosis, he can tailor your treatments to provide relief of your symptoms and address the cause of your diarrhea.
If you’re having problems with diarrhea or constipation, call Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio or book an appointment online today.