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June 12, 1915


JAMA. 1915;LXIV(24):1992. doi:10.1001/jama.1915.02570500040019

A diarrheal stool is an obvious symptom of some disturbance in the functions of the organism. How serious or significant the diarrhea may be usually depends on a number of attending circumstances. One can easily postulate a variety of conditions, each of which might lead to a copious or abnormal evacuation of the bowel, yet be of quite unlike moment to the organism in which they occur. A nervous reaction may thus lead to an accelerated peristalsis and result in an increased defecation without further import; the presence of toxic micro-organisms in the intestine may provoke undue secretion followed by abundant evacuations and loss of body constituents which would ordinarily be retained or reabsorbed; abnormal digestive functions with attendant putrefaction and fermentation may produce a diarrhea with the enforced loss of what would be nutrient products under normal alimentary conditions.

It seems almost unbelievable that so little is known respecting