How is chronic diarrhea evaluated

The initial diagnostic scheme for patients with chronic diarrhea

The scheme in the below image is based on obtaining a careful history, looking for specific physical findings, and obtaining simple laboratory data to help classify the diarrhea as watery, fatty, or inflammatory.

The value of obtaining a quantitative (as opposed to a spot) stool collection is debated among experts. A quantitative collection over 48 or 72 hours permits a better estimation of fluid, electrolyte, and fat excretion, but is not absolutely necessary for the appropriate classification of diarrhea.

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