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Acute Diarrhea: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 15, 2024

What is the Acute Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a common disorder that can affect anybody. It is accompanied by frequent bowel movement, loose motion and stomach cramps. Diarrhea can be caused by various factors, the most common being bacteria and viruses. Other factors that may cause diarrhea include certain medicines like antibiotics. Lactose, fructose and beverages containing artificial sweetening components can also cause diarrhea. The symptoms of diarrhea subside on its own in a couple of days. But if it persists for more than a week, immediate treatment shall be sought because diarrhea when untreated can lead to dehydration. This is a sign of acute diarrhea which can be caused be certain factors like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and a serious viral infection.

Acute diarrhea is common in children. To prevent them from this ailment, rotavirus vaccination should be given. Treatment also includes some preventive measures which should be adopted in one’s life, for example, one should use hand sanitizer before eating, drink water from bottled containers, and have food in eateries that maintain hygiene.

If you have acute diarrhea the doctor will run some tests on you to confirm the disorder. These include blood test, stool test or flexible colonoscopy, which is an imaging test to evaluate the lining of the colon. If the doctor detects something abnormal, you might have to undergo a biopsy.

How is the Acute Diarrhea treatment done?

Acute diarrhea affects children more frequently. To prevent that, the child should be give rotavirus vaccination. In adults common diarrhea subsides after a couple of days, but if it does not, treatment should be sought immediately, because diarrhea leads to dehydration and if it goes untreated, dehydration can lead to serious complications. If you have diarrhea due to exposure to bacteria or parasites, antibiotics might be given to you.

However, if you are on antibiotics and that is causing the diarrhea then the doctor might ask you to change those medicines. If you have diarrhea for more than a week, you will have to take a lot of fluids that are rich in potassium and sodium. You will be advised to drink soups, fruit juice and electrolyte water. One should also avoid certain foods like dairy products, spicy and fatty foods, so that the condition is not aggravated. Acute diarrhea can also be a side effect of underlying medical conditions like inflammatory bowel syndrome or colon cancer. In that case the doctor will advise you to seek medical help from a gastroenterologist or an oncologist.

Inflammatory bowel syndrome is an umbrella term to denote different types of disorders in the digestive system. Inflammatory bowel syndrome is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, calcium, Vitamin D and iron supplements. Ulcers and Crohn’s disease is treated with surgery.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

If you are observing certain symptoms like loose motion, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, frequent bowel movements, blood in the stool, nausea, bloating, you are suffering from diarrhea and you should seek medical help.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

If acute diarrhea is a resultant cause of bacteria or parasites then with antibiotics the symptoms will subside in a few days. However, if it is a side symptom of an underlying condition like inflammatory bowel syndrome or colon cancer, then the treatment would be different. In case of ulcers or Chron’s disease, a surgery might be attempted.


Are there any side effects?

There are no side effects of treatment for acute diarrhea, except for the fact that, if you are given antibiotics you may suffer from loss of appetite or nausea. Apart from that the common side effects of surgery (in case you are required to undergo one) are infection during surgery and bruising afterwards.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Post treatment guidelines basically includes some preventive measures like washing the hands properly before eating, using a hand sanitizer before you start dining if you are having food outside, drinking water from bottled cans or containers, avoiding street food (or in eateries where due diligence in not given to hygiene.)

How long does it take to recover?

Normal diarrhea subsides on its own. However if your condition does not improve even after a week, then you might have to take medicines. And, in that case it would take at least two weeks for you to recover completely. In case you undergo surgery, you will get back to leading a normal life in 3 to 4 weeks.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

If you don’t have an underlying condition that is causing the diarrhea in the first place, then the cost should not exceed INR 1000. However, if you have to undergo surgery, then the medical cost would be higher, depending on the institution from where you are seeking treatment and on your condition.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

If you stay careful and maintain hygiene through and through, chances are, diarrhea would not return after treatment. However parasites and bacteria can seep into our body through various measures. So there is no guaranty that you would not get it ever. If there is an underlying medical condition, for example, colon cancer that is causing diarrhea in the first place, and if it is detected at the initial stage, then with treatment your symptoms will subside for a long period to come.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are some home remedies that you can opt for in order to treat your diarrhea. For instance, you can stick to foods that are easy to digest, and limit the amount of food you eat. You can eat whole grains, cook food with flaxseed oil, and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables rich in potassium, sodium and electrolytes. Other than that, ginger and honey might work to alleviate the effects of diarrhea.


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Written ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant Singh Doctor of Medicine,MD - Consultant Physician,MDGeneral Physician
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