Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, PC -  - Gastroenterologist

Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, PC

Gastroenterologist located in New York City on Manhattan's Upper East Side

Everyone has a bout of diarrhea from time to time, but persistent loose stools can indicate an underlying problem. With over 30 years experience, Dr. Audrey Woolrich has been providing compassionate expert care to her patients. Whether you have an acute bout of traveler's diarrhea or have been having chronic watery bowel movements, call Dr. Woolrich's office or schedule an appointment online today.

Diarrhea Q & A

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is loose, watery bowel movements or softer, more frequent movements than usual.

What causes diarrhea?

Loose watery bowel movements can occur for several reasons. An abrupt onset usually is attributed to exposure to certain bacteria, viruses or parasites.

You might experience diarrhea because of a food-borne illness, which can occur without you leaving the country. Infected food preparers or contaminated imported or even local foods could be the source of your diarrhea.

Other common causes of diarrhea include:

  • Certain medications and supplements such as antibiotics, antacids and magnesium preparations
  • Excessive intake of artificial sweeteners
  • Malabsorption of certain foods because of enzyme deficiencies, such as lactase (dairy), sucrase (sugar), and maltase (carbohydrates)
  • Food intolerances such as gluten sensitivity
  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
  • Microscopic colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Less common causes are medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism and pancreatic insufficiency

When should I seek medical attention?

Most cases of diarrhea are self-limited, meaning they resolve themselves within 24-48 hours and just require rehydration with electrolyte-rich drinks.

You should seek medical attention if your diarrhea is associated with:

  • Significant abdominal pain
  • Fever greater than 102 Degrees
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Nausea and vomiting (you cannot keep down liquids or maintain adequate hydration)
  • Weakness or confusion
  • Lasting more than three days

How is the cause of my diarrhea identified and treated?

During your consultation with Dr. Woolrich, she will ask about your recent travels as well as the medications and supplements you have been taking for the past three months. She will inquire about your exposure to people who are ill or if you have been in a healthcare facility recently.

Dr. Woolrich will perform a complete examination and then decide whether conservative treatment with dietary manipulation and rehydration with electrolyte  drinks might suffice.  A probiotic might be suggested. Over the counter anti-diarrhea medications are generally not recommended.

Depending on your specific circumstances, Dr. Woolrich might immediately order stool or blood tests to aid in the diagnosis. Sometimes an endoscopic procedure such as an upper endoscopy or colonoscopy is required to make the final diagnosis.

For treatment of your acute or chronic diarrhea, call Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.