Diarrhea is a condition involving loose and watery stools that happens frequently than usual routine. A person suffering from diarrhea has great volume of stools. Diarrhea usually last for a couple of days, sometimes it can last for weeks. In this situation, it can be sign of an inflammatory bowel disease, or a less serious condition like irritable bowel syndrome.
Diarrhea occurs when eating food and fluids are passed too quickly, but in large amount of food and fluids it is ingested and passed to the colon. The colon absorbs the liquid from the food, giving a semisolid stool. On the other hand, if the liquids from the foods are not absorbed by the colon, it will result in a watery bowel movement.
Diseases and conditions that can cause diarrhea
- Viruses. A rotavirus is a common virus that causes acute diarrhea in children. Other viruses that cause diarrhea are cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis.
- Bacteria and parasites. People ingest bacteria and parasites through contaminated water and food. Parasites that can cause diarrhea are Giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium. Bacteria that causes diarrhea are campylobacter, salmonella, shigella and Escherichia coli. A diarrhea that is triggered by bacteria and parasites are also common in people who are traveling and it is called the Traveler’s diarrhea.
- Medications. There are medications that can cause diarrhea, like antibiotics. It destroys the good and bad bacteria, and it disturbs the natural balance of bacteria in the intestines. This disturbance can cause infection called the Clostridium difficile and can also cause diarrhea.
- Lactose intolerance. People have difficulty digesting after eating dairy products like milk.
- Fructose. It is a sugar found in fruits and honey and also added as sweetener to beverages that can cause diarrhea in people who have difficulty digesting it.
- Artificial sweeteners. Sweeteners found in chewing gums like Sorbitol and mannitol can also cause diarrhea.
Symptoms of diarrhea
- An increase in the frequency of bowel movements
- Loose and watery stools
- Urgency of going to the toilet and incontinence (leakage of stool)
- Rectal pain and bloating of the stomach
- Cramping of the lower abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- There is fever, losing appetite and decrease in weight
- The stool have blood or flecks of mucus
Treatment for diarrhea
- Give plenty of fluid like fruit juices, sports drinks and clear broth to adult, but avoid giving milk, apple juice, alcohol and caffeine.
- If it is a child who is suffering from diarrhea, give rehydration solutions. Do not add salt to the baby’s bottle.
- As a first aid measure, make sure that the individual or child drinks enough fluids than what they are losing through diarrhea. If they cannot keep up with the losses, it is better to seek emergency care.
- Make the person or child rest and avoiding strenuous exercises.
- Give an infant or child the BRAT diet – bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These are easily digested foods.
- Give adults semi-solid and foods low in fiber. The individual must also avoid eating spicy and fatty foods.