Diarrhoea is a condition in which the sufferer frequently passes loose to liquid stool a day often accompanied by abdominal pain. It is often a sign of underlying - some serious - condition such as gastrointestinal infection, disease, or some bowel disorder. Complications from diarrhoea are the second killer of infants around the world and are one of the leading causes of deaths in third world countries. People with impaired immune system, children, or malnourished are the ones prone to succumb to diarrhoea complications.
Causes of diarrhoea
Gastroenteritis secondary to viral, bacterial, parasitic infection is one of the common cause of diarrhoea. Norwalk, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, rotavirus, and hepatitis virus are the most common types of viruses that can infect the gastrointestinal tract (GI) causing irritation from released toxins. Bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, shigella, and campylobacter as well as parasites such as Giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium can also cause diarrhoea.
Parasitic and bacterial diarrhoea is acquired by eating contaminated foods or drinking dirty, untreated water.
Digestive disorders like celiac disease and lactose or fructose intolerance and bowel disease like irritable bowel syndrome are the most common type of non-parasitic diarrhoea. The bowel disorder can also be a sign of food and heavy metal poisoning. Even certain types of medication can trigger diarrhoea.
Symptoms of diarrhoea
The classic symptom of diarrhoea is frequent discharge of loose to liquid bowel: as many as 3 trips to the bathroom in a day can be classified as diarrhoea. Most of the time, the loose bowel is accompanied by abdominal cramps, pain, and bloating. Infectious diarrhoea can also manifest as discharge of blood in the stool and sometimes fever can arise. Vomiting and nausea are common to observe in people with diarrhoea also.
Complications of diarrhoea
Dehydration from frequent discharge of liquid stool and vomiting is the number one reason of deaths from diarrhoea. If the lost fluids and electrolytes are not replaced within few hours, the patient could go into shock and eventually die. Children and malnourished patients are the most susceptible to dehydration so that hospitalization is advised to these people if they are experiencing diarrhoea. In some cases, the extreme abdominal cramps and pain can also trigger heart attack in people with high blood pressure.
Treatment of diarrhoea
In minor cases, diarrhoea is self-limiting; meaning, it goes away on its own. Bed rest and enough electrolytes replacement from oral rehydration solution is enough to prevent dehydration. But if the diarrhoea is persistent, the patient will need intravenous replacement of fluid so that he or she must be brought to a doctor. Once a doctor determines the cause of the diarrhea, proper treatment can be given such as antibiotics. Pain killers can also be given to ease the patient's suffering.
Home remedies for diarrhoea
A patient with mild diarrhoea can stay at home to wait out the disease. Water, fruit juices, broths, and oral rehydration solution can be given to prevent complication. As the bowel slowly returns to normal, low-fiber and semisolid diet can be given. It's best to avoid dairy, fatty, and highly seasoned foods for few days as the digestion normalizes.
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