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JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2016 Sep;40(7):913-23. doi: 10.1177/0148607116651758. Epub 2016 Jun 6.

Diarrhea in Critically Ill Patients: The Role of Enteral Feeding.

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Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom
Department of Intensive Care, Erasme University Hospital, Belgium.


This tutorial presents a systematic approach to the management of diarrhea in the critical care setting. Diarrhea is a common and prevalent problem in critically ill patients. Despite the high prevalence, its management is far from simple. Professionals are confronted with a myriad of definitions based on frequency, consistency, and volume. The causes are complex and multifactorial, yet enteral tube feeding formula is believed to be the perpetrator. Potential causes for diarrhea are discussed, and 3 case reports provide context to examine the treatment from a nutrition perspective. Each scenario is comprehensively addressed discussing potential causes and providing specific clinical strategies contributing to improved bowel function in this patient group. The approach used for diarrhea management is based on a complete understanding of enteral tube formula, their composition, and their impact in the presence of gut dysfunction. Choosing the right feeding formula may positively influence bowel function and contribute to improved nutrition.


critically ill; diarrhea; enteral feeding

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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