The evaluation of the patient with diarrhea can be complex and the treatment challenging. In this article, the definition of diarrhea and the pathophysiologic mechanisms that lead to diarrhea are reviewed. A simplified 5-step approach to the patient with diarrhea is provided and applied in a case-oriented manner applicable to everyday clinical practice. On completion of this article, you should be able to (1) define diarrhea, (2) outline various pathophysiologic mechanisms of diarrhea, and (3) describe a simplified 5-step approach to facilitate the evaluation of diarrhea.
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