Diarrhea can be divided into two categories, acute and chronic.
Acute diarrhea is usually the result of an acute infection or an acute trauma that causes an imbalance in digestive bacteria, causing the delicate balance to be upset. This results in the inability of the colon to properly dehydrate stool, have increased peristalsis or contractions, and occasionally decreased tone of the anal sphincter.
Acute situations should be treated immediately, to ensure that the problem is corrected quickly and efficiently. If this is not the case, acute diarrhea can then become chronic. In these cases, the longer the chronic condition persists the more difficult it becomes to treat as prolonged diarrhea can cause damage to the mucosal tissue lining the colon.
Chronic diarrhea is usually the result of the situation stated above or due to an inflammatory process targeting the digestive system and bowel. These inflammatory syndromes and diseases will be discussed in the next section.