Diarrhea can be defined as an increase in the fluidity, frequency, and volume of daily stool output. The daily stool weight is usually increased over the normal average of 200 g due to an increase in the stool water above the normal content of 60% to 75%.
The physician should find out from the patient an accurate description of the nature of the diarrhea: the duration, frequency, consistency, volume, color, and relation to meals. Also, it is important to determine the presence of any underlying illnesses or systemic symptoms and to establish the patient’s recent travel history, use of medications or drugs, and sexual preferences.
It is helpful to classify diarrhea into clinical categories, taking into consideration the duration, setting, and sexual preference of the patient. Diarrhea of abrupt onset of less than 2 to 3 weeks’ duration is called acute diarrhea.