Diarrhea

Description:

Diarrhea is one of the most common health complaints. It can range from a mild, temporary condition, to a potentially life-threatening one.

Globally, an estimated 2 billion cases of diarrheal disease occur each year, and 1.9 million children under the age of 5 years, mostly in developing countries, die from diarrhea.

Diarrhea occurs when a person suffers from repeated bowel movements which are loose and watery. It’s a very common condition and is not considered to be serious.Many people get diarrhea once or twice each year. It normally lasts 2 to 3 days, and you can treat it with over-the-counter medicines.

Some people frequently pass stools, but they are of normal consistency. This is not diarrhea. Similarly, breastfed babies often pass loose, pasty stools. This is normal. It is not diarrhea.

* Most cases of diarrhea are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites

* Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause chronic diarrhea

* Antidiarrheal medications can reduce diarrheal output and zinc supplement is effective in children

* Some nutritional and probiotic interventions may help prevent diarrhea.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Symptoms:

Some common symptoms of diarrhea include:

* Bloated stomach

* Cramps

* Thin or watery stools

* The constant feeling that you need to have a bowel movement

* Nausea

* Vomiting

More serious symptoms include:

* Blood or mucus in your stool

* Weight loss

* Fever

Causes:

Usually, diarrhea is caused by a virus that infects your gut. Diarrhea is also known as intestinal flu or stomach flu.

Some common causes of diarrhea include:

* Viruses. Viruses that can cause diarrhea include Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis. Rotavirus is a common cause of acute childhood diarrhea.

* Contaminated food

* Alcohol abuse

* Diseases of the intestines (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)

* Eating foods that upset the digestive system

* Infection by bacteria (the cause of most types of food poisoning) or other organisms

* Laxative abuse

* Medications

* Allergies to certain foods

* Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

* Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

* Radiation therapy

* Some cancers

* Undergoing any surgery related to the digestive system

* Trouble absorbing certain nutrients also called “malabsorption”

* Diarrhea may also follow constipation, especially for people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Who is prone to diarrhea?

Some people could be more prone to diarrhea than others, such as:

* People suffering from illnesses like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

* People undergoing cancer treatments

* People who take certain medications such as laxatives, antacids, drugs that contain magnesium, NSAIDs (like aspirin and ibuprofen)* People who suffer from an intolerance of dairy products

* People suffering from gluten intolerance

* People who often take greasy fatty foods

* Older people (above 65 years) who suffer from several digestive disorders.

Diagnosis:

Besides conducting a physical exam and reviewing your medications, your doctor might order tests to determine what’s causing your diarrhea. They include:

* Blood test. A complete blood count test can help determine what’s causing your diarrhea.

* Stool test. Your doctor might recommend a stool test to determine whether a bacterium or parasite is causing your diarrhea.

* Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Your doctor might recommend one of these procedures to look at the lining of your colon and provide biopsies if no cause is evident for persistent diarrhea.

* Both procedures involve using a thin, lighted tube with a lens on the end to look inside your colon.

Treatment:

In most normal cases no extra treatment is requred.The doctor may advice you to increase fluid intake and adjust food for one or two days and it goes away.

Water is a good way to replace fluids, but it doesn’t contain the salts and electrolytes — minerals such as sodium and potassium — you need to maintain the electric currents that keep your heart beating. You can help maintain your electrolyte levels by drinking fruit juices for potassium or eating soups for sodium. Certain fruit juices, such as apple juice, might make diarrhea worse.

For children, ask your doctor about using an oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte, to prevent dehydration or replace lost fluids.

Antibiotics:

Antibiotics might help treat diarrhea caused by bacteria or parasites. If a virus is causing your diarrhea, antibiotics won’t help.

Adjusting medications you’re taking:

If your doctor determines that an antibiotic caused your diarrhea, your doctor might lower your dose or switch to another medication.

Treating underlying conditions:

If your diarrhea is caused by a more serious condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease, your doctor will work to control that condition. You might be referred to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist, who can help devise a treatment plan for you.

Lifestyle and home remedies:

Most diarrhea cases clear up on their own within a few days. To help you cope with your signs and symptoms until the diarrhea goes away, try to:

* Drink plenty of clear liquids, including water, broths and juices. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

* Add semisolid and low-fiber foods gradually as your bowel movements return to normal. Try soda crackers, toast, eggs, rice or chicken.

* Avoid certain foods such as dairy products, fatty foods, high-fiber foods or highly seasoned foods for a few days.

* Ask about anti-diarrheal medications. Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-diarrheal medications, such as loperamide (Imodium A-D) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), might help reduce the number of watery bowel movements and control severe symptoms.

* Certain medical conditions and infections — bacterial and parasitic — can be worsened by these medications because they prevent your body from getting rid of what’s causing the diarrhea. Also, these drugs aren’t always safe for children. Check with your doctor before taking these medications or giving them to a child.

* Consider taking probiotics. These microorganisms help restore a healthy balance to the intestinal tract by boosting the level of good bacteria. Probiotics are available in capsule or liquid form and are also added to some foods, such as certain brands of yogurt.

Studies confirm that some probiotics might be helpful in treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea. However, further research is needed to better understand which strains of bacteria are most helpful or what doses are needed.

Prevention:

Preventing viral diarrhea:

Wash your hands to prevent the spread of viral diarrhea. To ensure adequate hand-washing:

* Wash frequently. Wash your hands before and after preparing food. Wash your hands after handling uncooked meat, using the toilet, changing diapers, sneezing, coughing and blowing your nose.

* Lather with soap for at least 20 seconds. After putting soap on your hands, rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. This is about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice through.

* Use hand sanitizer when washing isn’t possible. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you can’t get to a sink. Apply the hand sanitizer as you would hand lotion, making sure to cover the fronts and backs of both hands. Use a product that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Vaccination:

You can help protect your infant from rotavirus, the most common cause of viral diarrhea in children, with one of two approved vaccines. Ask your baby’s doctor about having your baby vaccinated.

Preventing traveler’s diarrhea:

Diarrhea commonly affects people who travel to countries where there’s inadequate sanitation and contaminated food. To reduce your risk:

* Watch what you eat. Eat hot, well-cooked foods. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself. Also avoid raw or undercooked meats and dairy foods.

* Watch what you drink. Drink bottled water, soda, beer or wine served in its original container. Avoid tap water and ice cubes. Use bottled water even for brushing your teeth. Keep your mouth closed while you shower.

* Beverages made with boiled water, such as coffee and tea, are probably safe. Remember that alcohol and caffeine can aggravate diarrhea and dehydration.

* Ask your doctor about antibiotics. If you’re traveling to a developing country for an extended time, ask your doctor about starting antibiotics before you go, especially if you have a weakened immune system. In certain cases, taking an antibiotic might reduce your risk of traveler’s diarrhea.

* Check for travel warnings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a travelers’ health website where disease warnings are posted for various countries. If you’re planning to travel outside of the United States, check there for warnings and tips for reducing your risk.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:

https://www.practo.com/health-wiki/diarrhea-meaning-treatment-and-symptoms/69/article

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/158634.php

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352241 and 20352246

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.