Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose or liquid bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin with loss of the normal stretchiness of the skin and irritable behaviour. This can progress to decreased urination, loss of skin color, a fast heart rate, and a decrease in responsiveness as it becomes more severe. Loose but non-watery stools in babies who are breastfed, however, may be normal. The most common cause is an infection of the intestines due to either a virus, bacteria, or parasite; a condition known as gastroenteritis.These infections are often acquired from food or water that has been contaminated by stool, or directly from another person who is infected. It may be divided into three types: short duration watery diarrhea, short duration bloody diarrhea, and if it lasts for more than two weeks, persistent diarrhea. The short duration watery diarrhea may be due to an infection by cholera, although this is rare in the developed world. If blood is present it is also known as dysentery. A number of non-infectious causes may also result in diarrhea, including lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, hyperthyroidism, and a number of medications. In most cases, stool cultures are not required to confirm the exact cause.
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