Severe acute diarrhea

Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2003 Dec;32(4):1249-67. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8553(03)00100-6.


Acute diarrhea is commonly caused by an infection. Severe acute diarrhea warrants immediate medical evaluation and hospitalization. Indications for stool studies include fever; bloody diarrhea; recent travel to an endemic area; recent antibiotics; immunosuppression; and occupational risks, such as food handlers. Noninfectious causes include inflammatory bowel disease, radiation enteritis, and intestinal ischemia. Management of severe acute diarrhea includes intravenous fluid rehydration and empiric antibiotics. Use of antidiarrheal agents is controversial when invasive pathogens are suspected.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Algorithms
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diarrhea* / diagnosis
  • Diarrhea* / etiology
  • Diarrhea* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index