What are the symptoms of diarrhea?
Diarrhea makes its presence known with several urgent trips to the bathroom in a short time. You know it`s diarrhea when you pass watery or loose stool three or more times a day. You may also feel bloated, have abdominal cramping and pain.
There are three basic types of diarrhea:
- Acute diarrhea - the most common, acute diarrhea usually lasts less than 14 days.
- Persistent diarrhea - this type of diarrhea generally persists for several weeks (2 to 4 weeks).
- Chronic diarrhea - diarrhea that lasts for more than four weeks.
Who is most at risk?
Diarrhea is a global problem. It is present among all regions and population.
People of all ages can have diarrhea but young children (less than 5 years) and older adults (more than 70 years) remain most vulnerable to diarrhea.
Common causes of Diarrhea
You may experience diarrhea because of a number of conditions or circumstances.
What causes Acute and Persistent Diarrhea?
Many viruses cause diarrhea, including norovirus and rotavirus. Viral gastroenteritis is a common cause of acute diarrhea.
Bacteria or virus from contaminated food or water
Known as traveler’s diarrhea, it happens when you have diarrhea after eating or drinking contaminated food or water while on vacation.
Some infections from bacteria can cause diarrhea, such as nosocomial infection during hospitalization.
What causes Chronic Diarrhea?
Intestinal disorders or diseases
Other conditions such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis can cause chronic diarrhea.
Some drugs can cause diarrhea, in particular antibiotics. A medication may alter the balance of bacteria in your gut, causing abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Food intolerances and allergies
Allergies to foods such as cow’s milk, soy, cereal grains, eggs and seafood may cause chronic diarrhea. Lactose intolerance is a common condition that may cause diarrhea as well.
How to feel better
Your body loses water with each trip to the bathroom. If you lose too much, you can get dehydrated. Therefore, it’s important to keep drinking fluids. It’s also a good idea to take an oral rehydration solution that replace lost fluids and salts and help to prevent dehydration. Rehydration treatment is only part of the solution, because it will not reduce the frequency of watery/loose bowel movements or fluid loss, either shorten the duration of diarrhea, or rebalance the intestinal flora.
If bacteria or a parasite causes diarrhea, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. When used appropriately, antibiotics are effective in the treatment of traveler’s diarrhea. But, be careful to overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics, as it can lead to unintended consequences including antibiotic resistance, superinfection or a disruption of the normal balance of your intestinal microflora.
Drugs to treat Diarrhea
Pharmaceuticals also does not offer a full solution. These drugs work by inhibiting the activity of the intestinal smooth muscle, thereby preventing peristalsis, slowing gut transit and giving more time for fluids to be removed from the stool. Although effective in relieving diarrhea, they can also cause side effect such as constipation. Furthermore, these do not eliminate the cause of the diarrhea. Therefore, diarrhea will reoccur unless the cause of the diarrhea is eliminated.
Probiotics and prebiotics
If you haven`t tried probiotics and prebiotics, they might be the best way to boost your digestive well-being and help manage diarrhea. They play an important role in protecting your intestines against infection. And they can help with diarrhea by restoring the balance of bacteria in your gut.