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Diarrhea usually refers to increase or decrease in the frequency of bowel movements, characterized by abnormally loose or watery stools.Types:
- Acute diarrhea
- Chronic diarrhea
Acute diarrhea is a common problem which usually affects for a short period of time i.e. 1-2 days. It might last longer and then goes away on its own. But when it lasts for a week, it indicates that there is a serious condition such as irritable bowel disorder or a more serious disorder, such as a persistent infection or inflammatory bowel disease then immediate consultation is required. Chronic diarrhea lasts for at least four weeks which comes in the category of chronic disease, it may be continual or it might come and go.
- Fructose –When there is difficulty in digesting fructose, it can lead to diarrhea. It is naturally found in fruits, honey and sometimes in beverages also to add sweetness to it.
- Artificial sweeteners – Mannitol and Sorbitol sweeteners are added to the sugar-free products like chewing gum, which might cause diarrhea in healthy individuals.
- Bacteria, viruses and parasites – It usually affects while travelling and give rise to diarrhea which is called traveler’s diarrhea. All these can be transmitted from contaminated food or water to the body.
- Lactose intolerance – Difficulty in digesting lactose after consuming dairy products like milk causes lactose intolerance in the body which might lead to diarrhea.
- Certain Medications –Some antibiotics, antacids and cancer drugs can cause diarrhea which disturbs the balance and destroys good and bad bacteria in the intestine.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS -
- Watery-loose stools
- Cramps or pain in the abdomen
- Blood and pus in the stools
- Frequent bowel movements
It can cause excessive dehydration which becomes life threatening if left untreated:
- Extreme thirst
- Dryness on lips and mouth and sometimes skin too
- Faintness, weakness
- Less urination
- Concentrated urine with dark color
- Low energy
- Physical Examination
- Blood Test
- Stool test – To understand the cause whether its due to bacteria, virus or parasite
- Colonoscopy or Flexible Sigmoidoscopy - A small, thin, lighted tube is inserted into the rectum to view inside the colon. It also helps in taking biopsy sample from the inner part of colon which can be further tested. Colonoscopy allows to see the entire colon whereas Sigmoidoscopy gives a view from the lower colon.
- Antibiotics, Anti-diarrheal medications
- By replacing lost fluids and adding electrolytes to prevent dehydration
- For Adults – Drink lots of water, juice or both
- For Children – Oral Rehydration Solution
- Low fiber diet and avoid dairy products, fatty and heavy food
- Probiotics containing good bacteria
- If the cause is some medication, then switching to another medicine is recommended
RISK FACTORS –
- Contaminated food and water
- Limit travelling to avoid traveler’s diarrhea
- Dairy products, lactose-fructose indigestion
- Less water intake
- Prevention for Viral Diarrhea:
- Washing hands frequently with soap for 20 seconds
- Use sanitizer
- Vaccination for rotavirus
- Prevention for Traveler’s Diarrhea:
- Keep an eye on what is being consumed, avoid contaminated food and water
- Carry antibiotics for safety
- Check for traveler’s warning in different states or countries
- Estimation shows that around 2 billion people of any age can get affected every year globally
- Approximately, 1.9 million children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea.