Heyworth, Martin AIDS Research Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Francisco, California.
Last reviewed:November 2019
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The passage of loose or watery stools (greater than 8 oz or 227 g per 24 h), usually at more frequent than normal intervals. The two principal mechanisms responsible for diarrhea are (1) the rise in osmotic pressure of fecal contents, diminishing the absorption of water by the intestine (osmotic diarrhea); and (2) the increase in electrolyte secretion into the intestinal lumen by its epithelial cells, leading to an increased flow of water from the intestinal mucosa into the lumen (secretory diarrhea). See also: Digestive system; Gastrointestinal tract disorders; Intestine
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