DIARRHOEA is described as chronic when it has been present, either constantly or intermittently, for longer than two weeks. Determining whether the diarrhoea is primarily large or small intestinal in origin is important for deciding upon the diagnostic and therapeutic approach. This article discusses the pathophysiology of diarrhoea and outlines a diagnostic approach to chronic diarrhoea of small intestinal origin. An article in the next issue will set out an approach to the diagnosis of diarrhoea of large intestinal origin and discuss a few specific diarrhoeic diseases.
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