Hospitalist Questions Diarrhea

How is diarrhea treated in the hospital?

My father in law has had diarrhea for the past 4 days, and we are considering admitting him to the hospital for a detailed treatment. What should we expect during the treatment?

3 Answers

First they will need to find the reason then treat
Generally the first procedure would be to test the stool to determine if there's a particular bacteria or virus that is causing the diarrhea. Then it can be treated according to what they find out. There should also be IV hydration depending on how dehydrated he is. It may or may not require antibiotics. Hydration may be the only appropriate treatment for some types of diarrhea however other types will need antifungal or antibiotic treatments as well.
This question is depends on the circumstances surrounding the diarrhea. Some patients with high potassium or liver failure have diarrhea because of the medications we give them. Others have diarrhea because of infectious processes which typically aren't treated with antibiotics or drugs such as loperamide, because of complications associated with both. chronic diarrhea can be treated with the "BRAT diet", loperamide or increased fiber intake. Diarrhea from C. Diff infection typically caused by destruction of good gut bacteria from antibiotics should be treated with an oral antibiotic called vancomycin. Diarrhea from inflammatory bowel disease can be treated by immune modulating agents.

Jack Stephens, MD