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Diarrhea – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

 

Diarrhea is more of a symptom, not to be mistaken to be a disease. It is defined as the presence of frequently (3 or more times per each day) liquid or loose stool. The acute form lasts for less than 14 days (usually just several days) and then disappears by itself and generally isn’t a serious issue; however, it could be connected to other problems. It can affect everyone of any age and is infected. A typical adult will experience acute diarrhea four times per year. Long-term adverse effects are extremely rare.

Chronic diarrhea can last for up to four weeks. A bowel inflammation condition such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease might be blamed.

An experienced doctor should examine children and infants who are suffering from diarrhea.

Causes

People suffer from diarrhea when the waste is moving too fast through the bowels so that the intestines don’t have sufficient time to draw out the water in the waste to “firm it up.”

People experience diarrhea due to a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Infections caused by viruses and bacteria such as rotavirus and salmonella are the leading cause of diarrhea in children.
  • Certain medications, like blood pressure medication, antibiotics or medications containing magnesium
  • Certain intestinal disorders include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and ulcerative colitis.
  • Intestinal parasites are a common problem, particularly when travelling.
  • Inability to digest food fully, For instance, some people aren’t able to digest lactose, the sugar in milk. Likewise, some might not be able to take in fats or carbohydrates.
  • chemotherapy or radiation
  • A thyroid gland that is overactive

In functional bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, muscles normally responsible for moving food particles along the intestine could be strained, leading to diarrhea.

If you suspect that the medication you’re using may be causing your problem, take it with caution. Please don’t stop taking it until you talk with your physician.

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Diarrhea doesn’t necessarily result from food items or substances eaten or swallowed. Stress, emotional or physical turmoil could cause it.

 

Symptoms and Complications

The stool you take will be watery and loose. You may experience nausea, abdominal cramps and constipation. It is possible to be suffering from fever along with chills. If you’ve been suffering from diarrhea for a couple of days, you might feel weak or lightheaded. This is due to the rapid loss of the minerals, sugars and water your body requires. Normally, diarrhea doesn’t cause a loss of control over your bowels. If this occurs, consult with your physician.

You might also notice that you’re less likely to urinate. You’re losing body fluids via the bowels, not urine. If diarrhea lasts more than 72 hours or if you have a temperature of 38.5degC or more, if you find pus or blood in your stool, or suffer from severe abdominal pain or vomiting that stops liquid replacement through the mouth, seek out a doctor right away. Dehydration-related complications due to diarrhea may develop rapidly in debilitated, elderly, or young individuals or those suffering from severe diarrhea. The sudden onset of diarrhea, with fever and bloody stools, can be a sign of a possible infection or parasite.

Always seek out a physician for children suffering from diarrhea that hasn’t peed in the last at least 6 hours. The child could be at risk of becoming dehydrated.

Making the Diagnosis

Your doctor will have to determine what’s causing diarrhea by asking about your food habits and the medications you’ve been taking (including prescription and non-prescription drugs). Your doctor will assess your hydration and fluid levels and look at your abdomen. Stool and blood samples can be examined to determine if there is an infection or if it is deemed appropriate. It can take a few days before you get the results from stool samples. However, your doctor must determine what’s causing diarrhea to determine the best treatment.

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In the case of persistent constipation, colonoscopies could be required to ensure that it’s not due to other serious issues. It involves inserting a flexible tube with small cameras at the end (an endoscope) through the anus to inspect the colon’s interior (the future in the digestive tract).

Treatment and Prevention

The aim of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and bring regular bowel movements back. Preventing dehydration may occur due to the additional loss of fluids during episodes in diarrhea is crucial, particularly in older adults and children.

There is no need to use medication for diarrhea. For adults, it’s best to wait for 48 to 72 hours, if it’s possible, to determine if it will stop by itself. In letting it “run its course,” your body’s natural process will allow it to eliminate the issue responsible for diarrhea. However, if diarrhea persists, it is best to speak with your doctor.

If the cause is believed to be bacteria or parasites, the doctor could suggest an antibiotic rid you of it. In other cases, a doctor or pharmacist might recommend a medication such as bismuth subsalicylate and loperamide* for relief from diarrhea. If symptoms persist longer than 72 hours after the onset of diarrhea, you should consult with a physician. Probiotics are a good option to treat or prevent some reasons for diarrhea. Consult your physician or pharmacist to discover what kind of probiotic is suitable for you.

Loss of fluids through frequent bowel movements could lead to serious problems. In particular, it could make any medication you take a pass through your body faster than they are supposed to and, therefore, they might not function properly. It is important to talk to your doctor about this. In addition, dehydration can lead to electrolyte imbalances and kidney damage.

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The signs of dehydration are dry mouth, a thirst that is greater, a decreased frequency of urination, less sweating, and feeling drained or lightheaded. The symptoms could also include cramps in the muscles, nausea and a rise in body temperature.

When you first notice diarrhea take a sip of “clear” fluids, at least 2 cups every hour. Rehydration pills for oral consumption that are designed to complement the body’s fluids are the best choice, particularly for seniors and children. Make sure you consult a doctor before treating children or if vomiting is the cause of diarrhea. If rehydration is successful, foods appropriate for children should be introduced again.

Standard guidelines no longer suggest “resting the bowel” after an episode of diarrhea. Relax physically until diarrhea has gone away – you’ll require power to heal quicker. You might want to eat food items that “bind” stool and slow the movement of chair through the large intestine, for instance, the known as the “BRAT diet”: bananas and rice, applesauce, and toast.

Find out the reason for your diarrhea, and you could be able to stop it from happening again. Because infectious agents can cause many instances, you should take the same precautions for diarrhea that you would go with flu:

  • Avoid touching the hands of anyone suffering from diarrhea. If you do have to contact them, clean your hands immediately afterwards.
  • If you’re suffering from diarrhea, clean your hands before eating and after you use the washroom, and then dry your hands using a disposable paper towel, not the same towel that all the other people use.
  • A lot of the infectious causes of diarrhea spread in food. Beware of eating uncooked meats or raw seafood. Watch out for foods that have been older than their freshness expiry date or that have been stored in the open.

 

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I am a practising physician and medical expert also a blogger and content creator

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