Key messages

• Severe diarrhea with dehydration can require intensive care treatment, particularly for infants, the elderly, or the debilitated.

• Prevention or correction of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are the most important components of treatment.

• Complications of diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli include hemolytic-uremic syndrome and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

• Clostridium difficile colitis can cause diarrhea up to 6 weeks after antibiotic use.

• Altered intestinal function and side-effects of drug treatment are other common causes of diarrhea arising during intensive care.

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