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Overview

Diarrhoea - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a very common condition. It is generally classified as a symptom or an underlying cause of a disease or a disorder. It can range from mild to severe. It can even cause death in chronic situations. Diarrhea is characterized by unusually watery or loose stools. Generally babies who breastfeed pass pasty and loose stool, this should not be confused with symptoms of diarrhea and is completely normal.

Facts about diarrhea:

  • It can be chronic, persistent and acute.
  • It is caused due to infection by viruses, bacteria and parasites.
  • Chronic diarrhea is also called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are major causes of chronic diarrhea.
  • Diarrhea is usually diagnosed by testing stool samples of the affected.
  • Diarrhea can cause severe dehydration, which is why electrolytes and fluids are given during treatment.
  • Zinc supplements and antidiarrheal medications are given to reduce the symptoms of diarrhea.
  • Probiotic and nutritional interventions can also be used during diarrhea.

Classification of diarrhea:

  • Acute diarrhea- This type of diarrhea lasts between number of days to several hours. It usually lasts less than 14 days. Acute diarrhea includes virus found in cholera. Blood found in acute diarrhea is a sure symptom of dysentery.
  • Persistent diarrhea- The diarrhea which lasts more than 2 weeks but less than 4 weeks is called persistent diarrhea.
  • Chronic diarrhea- This form of diarrhea is extremely fatal and needs immediate medical attention. Chronic diarrhea occurs when you experience watery stools for more than 4 weeks.

What causes diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be caused when there is high mobility of the intestines or when there is acute inflammation of the intestinal walls. Secretory diarrhea occurs from chloride secretions inside the bowels. This leads to a huge loss of fluid. Whereas, osmotic diarrhea is caused when the small intestine fails to absorb soluble compounds, this leads to the water flowing into the gut.

Other causes of diarrhea include:

  • Microscopic colitis- This form of diarrhea only affects older people. It is usually persistent at night.
  • Malabsorptive diarrhea- It is caused by inadequate nutrient absorption. It can also be caused due to a condition known as celiac disease.
  • Drug induced factors- Sometimes consumption of too many laxatives can lead to acute diarrhea.
  • Endocrine causes- Disorders such as hyperthyroidism, carcinoid tumors ad Addison disease can result to diarrhea.
  • Cancer causes- Neoplastic diarrhea is a symptom of gut cancer.
Treatable by medical professional Usually self diagnosable Lab test sometimes required Short-term: resolves within days to weeks Non communicable
Symptoms
Abdominal pain Abdominal cramps Frequency to visit the toilet Passing of watery stool Vomiting Nausea

Popular Health Tips

Bowel Movement - What It Is Saying About Your Health?

MBBS, MD - Medicine, Masters In Evidence Based Medicine
General Physician, Delhi
Bowel Movement - What It Is Saying About Your Health?

Bowel movement is one of the most important clues about an individual’s health, as it gives a real idea of the gastrointestinal condition as well as overall health. One shall have to get familiar with the regular appearance of stool to spot the issues beforehand; however, the day to day alterations in the appearance does not mean that there is a problem with your health as one may notice short-term abnormalities based on what he or she is eating every day.

But in case an unexplained change lasts for over a week or so, it is a sign of some strange happening in the gastrointestinal tract.

  1. Hard pieces of faeces that are hard to pass: If the bowel movement is straining to pass, then the individual is constipated. Some people think that they are not suffering from constipation, but their stool is always hard and comes out in pieces rather than soft stool that passes out effortlessly. The most common reason behind such stool is a lack of fibre in the diet. According to general recommendations, an adult male must take at least 38 grams of fibre while an adult female must take about 25 grams of fibre. It is recommended to maintain a food journal to track the daily nutrients intake, and in case there is a lack of fibre in the diet, it can be stacked up with whole grains, fruits, beans and nuts.
  2. Black or bright red coloured poop: If the stool has a deep red appearance, it would indicate that a part of the bowel is bleeding. In most circumstances, the blood in the stool is caused by the benign haemorrhoids, but it could also be due to some ulcers in the colon or stomach or even cancer. That is why it is extremely crucial to bring it to the doctor’s notice. There are different types of over-the-counter medications which turn the stool into black colour. This sort of discolouration is entirely temporary and may stay along for a few days even after stopping the medicine.
  3. A loose stool which is not diarrhoeaLoose stool but not diarrhoea may mean that the individual is suffering from celiac disease. Although the illness is quite uncommon, most people who suffer from it are not aware of the condition. The appearance of the stool is the largest and most reliable signs of having celiac disease. Individuals affected with celiac disease are not able to tolerate gluten, and it destroys the villi in the lining of the small intestine. As a result, the nutrients are unabsorbed, and the stool becomes loose. Switching to a gluten-free diet for about 2 to 3 weeks can aid in alleviating the disease.

If the appearance of the stool remains abnormal for weeks together, it is important to talk to a doctor to find out if there is something serious underlying. Bowel movement is the truest sign of the intestinal health, and thus, should not be ignored. 

1 person found this helpful

Digestive Health - 8 Things You Should Just Say 'No' To!

MD - Medicine, DM - Gastroenterology
Gastroenterologist, Gurgaon
Digestive Health - 8 Things You Should Just Say 'No' To!

Knowingly or unknowingly, people often end up consuming food items that affect their digestive health negatively, instead of providing health benefits. Yes, the majority of people think that they can digest any kind of food and won't suffer from any side effects at all. But in reality, based on the preparation, processing, and ingredients present in them, some foods end up triggering digestive problems.

Let's take a look at some such foods that can be bad for the digestive health.

  1. Processed Foods: Processed or packed foods are high in carbohydrates, and can cause various digestive issues, such as bloating, cramping, gas formation, hypertension, and diabetes, when consumed in large amounts.
  2. Alcohol: Technically speaking, alcohol may not be a food; but if you consume alcohol every time you eat, it can be counted as a food item. When the consumption of alcohol is moderate to high, it can cause acid reflux or heartburn, inflammation in the stomach lining, stomach cramps, and even diarrhea.
  3. Artificial Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners may work great for keeping your blood sugar in control but may affecctyour digestive system adversely. Artificial sweeteners contain ingredients that can increase the chance of bloating, gas, diarrhea, and inflammation.
  4. Fried and Greasy Foods: Fried foods and greasy food are not only difficult to digest but they can also cause minor digestive problems, which later lead to intense stomach conditions such as acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, tummy upset, belching, etc.
  5. Chocolates: Are you fond of eating chocolates? Having a sweet tooth can cost you your digestive health. From heartburn to an upset stomach, eating too many chocolates or candies can result in loose stools and diarrhea.
  6. Foods Rich in Spice: Eating too much of spicy foods and those that contain chili peppers for a tangy flavor can often lead to heartburn and acidity. While you may enjoy eating something delicious with a tangy and spicy taste, the damage it may cause to your digestive health can be a cause forconcern.
  7. Too Much of Caffeine: Drinking too much coffee or drinks with a high caffeine content cannot only irritate the stomach but also damage the smooth functioning of the digestive system. Heartburn, inflammation, constipation, and dehydration are some of the common digestive problems posed by coffee.
  8. Raw Vegetables and Acidic Fruits: While consuming too many acidic fruits can cause acid reflux and stomach inflammation, eating raw vegetables leads to cramps, diarrhea, bloating and gas as they pass through the digestive system undigested.

For those who are concerned about their digestive health, consulting a doctor is recommended. In case you already have a stomach related ailment or disorder or have suffered from any in the past, a doctor can suggest and advice you and what are the best foods to incorporate in your diet.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2986 people found this helpful

6 Amazing Health Benefits You Never Knew About Apple Cider Vinegar!

P.G. Diploma In Dietitics & Nutrition, BSC - Zoology
Dietitian/Nutritionist, Mumbai
6 Amazing Health Benefits You Never Knew About Apple Cider Vinegar!

Raw apple cider vinegar is one of the best natural health remedies for detoxification, helping your body digest food more easily and for a quick burst of energy. Apple cider vinegar can also be used for personal care like conditioning your hair, whitening your teeth and as a household cleaner. Some other benefits of apple cider vinegar: 

  1. Helps tummy troubles: Apple cider vinegar has some antibiotic properties which help in treating diarrhea, particularly caused by bacterial infection. Sip some apple cider vinegar mixed with water to treat an upset stomach. According to some remedy experts apple cider vinegar contains pectin which helps soothe intestinal spasms. 
  2. Remedy for allergies: Apple cider vinegar thins the mucus, supports the immune system & clears the sinus. Drink 1 teaspoon of vinegar mixed in a glass of water for allergies. 
  3. Soothes a sore throat: It can be used to soothe sore throat. Acidic properties of apple cider vinegar helps kill the germs in the throat. So, you can gargle with a mixture of apple cider vinegar (1/4 cup) & warm water (1/4 cup) every hour to get a relief from sore throat.
  4. Lowers cholesterol: Several animal studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can lower triglycerides, cholesterol & blood pressure. This has to be confirmed in case of humans. 
  5. Helps weight loss: Many human studies suggest that apple cider vinegar if consumed with proper lifestyle changes help in weight loss. Including it in the diet increase the satiety which helps in less consumption of calories & thus helps in losing weight. 
  6. Kill fungus on skin: Antibacterial & anti fungal properties of apple cider vinegar kills bacterial & fungal infections on skin. Rub two times a day on the infected area to get a benefit.

You can add apple cider vinegar in salad dressing, homemade mayonnaise etc and get benefit of it. Another popular way of consuming it is mixing with water and drinking as a beverage. The dosages vary from 1-2 tsp to 1-2 tbsp. As excess of anything is harmful. So, do not exceed the recommended dosage. Excess consumption may have harmful effects.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

6039 people found this helpful

Diarrhea In Children - How Can It Be Treated?

MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, BCH, DNB - Training, PDCC - Pediatric Hepatology & Gastroenterology
Pediatrician, Gurgaon
Diarrhea In Children - How Can It Be Treated?

Diarrhea occurs when the body is expelling germs out of it. An episode of diarrhea can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week. Dehydration, cramps, vomiting, nausea and fever often accompany diarrhea. Usually, children tend to get diarrhoea more than adults.

Diarrhea treatment according to causes behind it

  1. Treating diarrhea due to infectionSome common causes of diarrhea include infection from rotavirus, salmonella (a type of bacteria) and rarely giardia (a type of parasite). In children, virus is a common cause of diarrhea. Besides watery or loose stools, viral gastroenteritis infection symptoms include fever, headache, stomach ache and vomiting. Gastroenteritis diarrhoea can last for 5-14 days. During this time, fluid loss must be prevented. In younger children, oral rehydration solution (ORS) or breast milk is enough. Just feeding them water won’t replenish the potassium, sodium and other nutrients they lose. Older children, to prevent fluid loss, can be given ORS and popsicles to counter dehydration and vomiting.
  2. Treating diarrhea due to medications: Antibiotics or laxatives can cause diarrhea in children. If the diarrhea is mild, make sure your child is hydrated. If the antibiotics are causing diarrhoea, you need to continue medication, but do consult your doctor immediately.
  3. Treating diarrhea due to food poisoningWhen it comes to food poisoning induced diarrhea, the same method as countering infection-induced diarrhea should be followed. Keep your child hydrated and call your doctor.

Diarrhea and children - recognising dehydration

The most serious complication of diarrhea is dehydration, especially if the diarrhea is severe. Severe dehydration is critical as it can cause brain damage, seizure, even death. Your child may need immediate medical attention, if you notice the following symptoms:

  1. Light-headedness and dizziness
  2. Sticky, dark mouth
  3. Dark yellow urine
  4. No or few tears when crying
  5. Dry, cool skin
  6. Loss of energy

When should you visit a doctor

Diarrhea resolves within a few days, but it can have serious complications. Call your doctor if you notice signs such as:
1. Looks very sick
2. Diarrhea has persisted for more than 3 days
3. Your child is less than 6 months old
4. Your child is vomiting bloody yellow or green fluid
5. Seems dehydrated
6. The fever reads above 105 degree Fahrenheit
7. Bloody stools
8. Rashes
9. Stomach pain persists for more than 2 hours
10. Infrequent urination

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3571 people found this helpful

Stomach Infection - Know How It Can be Avoided!

MBBS, MD - Medicine, Masters In Evidence Based Medicine
General Physician, Delhi
Stomach Infection - Know How It Can be Avoided!

Contaminated food is one of the most common sources of infections in the human body and so the stomach is one of the most commonly affected organs. Whether it is eating raw food or unhygienically prepared foods, the stomach has very high chance of getting infected than other body parts.

One of the most common causes of stomach infection is the norovirus also called as cruise ship virus. Spread through vomitus and faecal material, it is quite contagious and can affect large amounts of people in confined areas like a cruise ship. The common symptoms would include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, bloated feeling, abdominal pain (generalised or localised), fatigue, and tiredness.

On the brighter side, there are well-proven measures listed below which are simple and easy to follow that can help avoid stomach infection.

  1. Restore bacterial balance: The good bacteria in the stomach are lost with the stomach flu and restoring it will help in managing the flu. A good amount of probiotics and fermented foods including yoghurt, sour curd, etc., will do wonders by restoring natural flora. Supplements can be taken if required, and these bacteria will restore the ability of the stomach to fight the virus.
  2. Isolation and separation: If there is a close family member affected by the virus, ensure they are staying separately and all their clothing (bedding included) are maintained in an isolated manner. Children and elderly need extra protection, whether they are affected or are in the same household.
  3. Cleaning methods: Since the virus spreads by contaminated faecal matter, vomitus and through surfaces, it is necessary to prevent the spread.
    • When in doubt, washing hands is very useful. Use soap and water instead of a hand wash. Staying away from picking nose and touching eyes are also useful.
    • The infected person’s clothes should be washed separately in extra hot water and bleached to get rid of the virus.
    • Using the dishwasher or soaking the washed utensils in extra-hot water is a good way to get rid of the virus.
    • Surfaces like laptops need to be cleaned more regularly and rigorously
    • Steam cleaning of carpets is a good idea to get rid of the virus that may be locked there.
    • Avoid going out or being in close contact for about a week, as the virus needs that much time to clear out completely.
  4. Food habits
    • Do not eat raw or uncooked foods
    • Drink loads of water, clear soups, sports drink and lime juice to replace lost fluid.
    • Eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables that are well-cooked to ensure you get the essential vitamins and minerals.

Following the above measures can help avoid the stomach flu and stay healthy.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3118 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

10 days before I ate a ripe mango and accidentally I swallowed mango seed. It was a normal seed, but I think now also it was in my stomach. What should I do. Can I take loose motion tablets for this?

BHMS
Homeopath, Navi Mumbai
Yes you can take the laxatives for it take the laxopeg sachet 2 times a day for 3 to 5 days ok it will help you and also eat banana ok.
1 person found this helpful

I am suffer from motions no so loose motions but motions come daily 5 time .motion come little like 5 time daily no stomach pain.

PGDUS, Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (B.U.M.S)
Unani Specialist, Patna
You should take some medicines like Habb-e-deedan 2x2 for 2 days, H.Papita 2 x 2 for 5 days, H. Raal 2 x2 for 5 days.

I am suffering from problem of loose motion when I take medicine I will remain well but when I stop taking medicine the loose motion will continue.

DNB(Gastroenterology), Gujarat University
Gastroenterologist, Ahmedabad
You have not given duration of your problem?. Stop drinking milk. You can have buttermilk and curd.

Could you please advise the loose motion medicine for 5 year old kid. And she is also having stomach ach as well.

MD - Homeopathy, BHMS
Homeopath, Ahmedabad
Hello, she must have suffered from gastroenteritis. As per your details. Kindly avoid roti, fats, like ghee, butter. Give rice, curd. Light food. N plenty of liquid. No cold food. All freshly made food. Watch for dehydration. N you can give homoeopathic medication Ars. Alb 30. 4 pills, twice a day. For 3 days. Can revert back after that.