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Diarrhoea is defined as the passage of liquid or loose stools more than three times a day. Whilst the passage of watery stools once a day is sometimes troublesome it is not strictly “diarrhoea” , similarly passage of solid or hard pellety stools frequently is not a reflection of diarrhoea, indeed it is often a reflection of constipation. The commonest cause of diarrhoea in the UK is gastroenteritis, a gastrointestinal infection, this is usually self limiting and passess within a few days to a week or two. However more prolonged diarrhoea may arise as a result of other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, bile salt malabsorption, Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis. A wide range of tests with varying degrees of risk and availability are used to investigate symptoms. Commonly used tests include colonoscopy, upper gastrinestinal endoscopy (OGD) and duodenal biopsy, Faecal calprotectin, faecal elastase and tests for bile salt malabsorption.

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