Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


In this project we investigated the incidence of diarrhea and its possible causes in ventilator dependent patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) at McKay-Dee Hospital. Chronic diarrhea has been a long time problem in the ICU, but the etiology has never been fully explored. High dose antibiotic therapy has been thought to be a potential risk factor. Another proposed risk has been the use of glutamine, a conditionally essential amino acid contained in some enteral products. Glutamine is commonly used in feeding critically ill patients because of its immune enhancing properties.

Currently, we have not established a correlation between the use of glutamine and the incidence of diarrhea. Data obtained in this study, however, suggests that a correlation exists with high-dose antibiotic therapy.

Future application of this research could lead to standard protocols in treatment of diarrhea in the ICU. Such protocols might include all patients administered high dose antibiotic therapy be given a probiotic supplement to prevent diarrhea. Also, if further evidence is found between glutamine supplementation and increased risk of diarrhea, discontinuing or reducing supplementation could be considered an alternative measure.



Faculty Mentor

Megan Bunch

Departmental Honors Advisor

Janet Anderson