Diarrhea describes loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. You may also experience abdominal cramps and a greater volume of stool. Diarrhea varies in specific symptoms, severity and duration.

Acute diarrhea usually lasts for a few days and is typically caused by an infection of some sort — caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Chronic diarrhea persists longer than does acute diarrhea, generally longer than four weeks. Chronic diarrhea can indicate a serious disorder, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or a less serious condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.