Diarrhea - Symptoms & Treatment
Diarrhea is defined as loose, watery, and frequent stools. Diarrhea can be caused by a change in diet by infection, by antibiotic use, or by a number of rare diseases. Chronic diarrhea lasts much longer than does acute diarrhea, generally longer than four weeks. It can be a sign of a serious disorder, such as inflammatory bowel disease, or it may be due to a less serious condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome. The basic physiology of acute diarrhea is simple: either not enough fluid is absorbed from the intestines, or the intestines produce too much fluid. The most significant cause of severe illness is loss of water from the diarrhea, which is often accompanied by vomiting. When your ability to drink fluid to compensate for the water lost with diarrhea and vomiting is impaired, dehydration can result. Most deaths from diarrhea occur in the very young and the elderly, whose health may be put at risk from a moderate amount of dehydration. Most cases of diarrhea clear on their own without treatment. But if diarrhea persists, you become dehydrated or you pass blood in your stool, see your doctor.
Acute diarrhea is an unpleasant digestive disorder that nearly everyone experiences at one time or another. Diarrhea that lasts for more than 2 weeks is considered persistent or chronic. Although changes in frequency of bowel movements and looseness of stools can vary independently of each other, changes usually occur in both. Although these conditions may accompany diarrhea, they often have different causes and different treatments than diarrhea. Viruses, bacteria, or parasites all can be responsible, which means that a child with diarrhea might exhibit a variety of symptoms. Each year there are about one billion cases of diarrhea in children worldwide. In most cases (more than 990 million of them), the diarrhea will resolve by itself within a week or so. Still, more than 3 million young children die each year from diarrhea (about 400-500 in the United States). Much of the incidence of these deaths is due to the lack of adequate safe water and lack of sewage treatment capacity; the separation of drinking water from contaminated sewage is also a major issue.
Causes of Diarrhea
The common Causes of Diarrhea :
- Gastrectomy (partial removal of the stomach).
- Nerve disorders like autonomic neuropathy or diabetic neuropathy .
- Infections by other organisms.
- Allergies to certain foods.
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
- High dose radiation therapy.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Carcinoid syndrome.
- Some cancers.
- Infection by bacteria (the cause of most types of food poisoning ) .
- Eating foods that upset the digestive system.
- Medications .
- Radiation therapy .
Symptoms of Diarrhea
Some Symptoms of Diarrhea :
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- Frequent, loose, watery stools
- Abdominal cramps
Treatment of Diarrhea:
- Avoid over-the-counter diarrheal medications unless specifically instructed to use one by your doctor. Certain infections can be made worse by these drugs. When you have diarrhea, your body is trying to get rid of whatever food, virus, or other bug is causing it.
- Avoid solid food for about 24 hours, until your symptoms begin to subside. Stick with clear liquids during this time, like clear soups and jello.
- When you resume eating, start with mild foods like rice, dry toast, and bananas. Avoid dairy, fruits, vegetables, alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods until your symptoms have been gone for a couple of days.
- Drink plenty of fluid to avoid becoming dehydrated. Start with sips of water or any fluid other than milk or caffeinated beverages. For infants and young children, use electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte.