Diarrhea: Symptom, Cause, Treatment and Prevention

Diarrhea is common, often related with infection, bowel disease, etc. It is usually mild, but needs medical attention in some cases. Learn the treatment.

Diarrhea is an awful condition where one experiences loose and watery bowel movements more than three times within a day. It is often accompanied by bloating, nausea, abdominal cramps, and frequent urges to move the bowels. This is often not a serious condition but you may need to call your doctor if you experience severe abdominal pain, fever, bloody stools, and dehydration that lasts more than three days. Children who have the condition should be seen by a doctor since this condition may have more serious effects on them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms may be classified into non-serious or uncomplicated and serious or complicated ones.

Non-Serious Symptoms

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Loose stools
  • Watery stools
  • Urgency in moving bowels
  • Nausea and vomiting

Serious Symptoms

In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, serious symptoms are like:

  • Painful passage of stools
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Fever (>38 ºC or 100 ºF)
  • Inability to increase fluid intake
  • Reduced frequency and amount of urination
  • Mucus, undigested food or blood in stools
  • Weight loss

When to See a Doctor

Call your doctor if your diarrhea does not stop, or if fever lasts more than 24 hours. If you are vomiting and are not able to drink more fluids to replace the loss, call a doctor immediately.

Acute disease may become a serious condition among babies and younger children because they are prone to dehydration. Seek medical help immediately if your child has the disease.

 

What Are the Causes?

Acute Condition

It may be caused by various conditions and events such as:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Food poisoning
  • Tropical diseases like cholera and typhoid
  • Emotional stress and anxiety
  • Medications, such as antibiotics
  • Drinking too much alcohol

Infectious Condition

Infection from contaminated water or food can cause diarrhea, and these may involve:

  • Viruses like adenovirus, rotavirus, and calicivirus
  • Bacteria, such as Campylobacter, E. coli, V. cholerae, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Shigella
  • Intestinal parasites, such as tapeworm, Giardia lamblia, and Cryptosporidium parvum

Chronic Condition

Long-lasting or repeated bouts may be associated with various conditions:

  • Celiac disease
  • Chronic constipation
  • Hormonal disorders such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Bowel cancer
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Medications such as antibiotics, laxatives, antacids, and drugs for treating high blood pressure or arthritis

 

What Are the Treatments?

In most cases, the disease stops on its own within one or two days even without treatment. If you have tried home remedies but it persists, call your doctor.

1. Medical Treatments

  • Change the medicine you’ve taken. If your antibiotic or other medication is the cause, ask your doctor to change your treatment plan.
  • Use antibiotics. If your diarrhea is caused by bacterial infection or parasites, you may need antibiotics to treat your condition. However, if it is due to a virus, antibiotics are not recommended.
  • Treatment according to conditions. Treatment of underlying medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease can help control the disease.

Watch the video to know how to get rid of the condition fast:

2. Home Remedies

  • Choose suitable food

Eat something light and easy to digest

Eat rice, salty crackers, sugar cookies or plain cookies to reduce abdominal pain.

Ginger may help you ease your stomach

Try ginger tea, ginger ale, or ginger bread to reduce gas and spasms. However, avoid these if you are taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin.

Try the BRATTY diet

BRATTY diet consists of banana, rice, applesauce, toast, tea, and yogurt which have a constipating effect. They are rich in fiber, and add bulk to the stools. However, avoid taking these with jam or sweeteners.

  • Choose suitable drink

Constantly drinking

Take small sips of lukewarm juice, tea, and clear broth to relieve upset stomach and prevent dehydration. Avoid cold or carbonated drinks like cola, beer and soda.

Keep hydrated

Try to consume at least 8 cups of fluids daily. If you have a fever, increase to 12 cups. Avoid apple juice or prune juice, which have a laxative effect.

  • Additional advice

Stop dairy products

Except for yogurt, dairy products can cause lactose intolerance, which can cause or worsen your diarrhea. These can lead to bloating, stomach cramps and pain.

Try OTC drugs

OTC drugs that can help relieve symptoms include Pepto-Bismol and Mylanta, Imodium and Psyllium.

 

How Can I Prevent the Disease in Daily Life?

1. Store Food Properly

It is always best to serve food after cooking or refrigerate it immediately. Leaving food at room temperature encourages the growth of harmful bacteria.

2. Remember to Wash Your Hands

Always wash your hands before and after you prepare food. Wash your hands especially after handling raw meat, changing diapers, using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose.

3. Pay Attention When Traveling

Many people get the disease during travel. To avoid this, eat only well-cooked foods. If you want to eat raw fruits and vegetables, wash and peel them yourselves. Drink only bottled water and other beverages in their original containers. Boil water for coffee and tea. Avoid opening your mouth while you shower.

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