Diarrhea

Diarrhoea toilet

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of diarrhea

Gastrointestinal disorders are very common in low and middle-income countries which lack hygiene for maintaining a healthy life. Gastrointestinal disorders of viral or bacterial origin are also common in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world that have ideal climatic conditions for the growth and propagation of these pathogens. One of the very common diseases belonging to this category is “diarrhea” that affects millions of children and adult throughout the world. As per the global estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly 2.5 billion individuals lack sanitation. Nearly 499,000 deaths of children less than 5 years of age were reported due to diarrheal diseases. Clearly, the current global burden due to diarrhea is alarming and demands attention from health organizations worldwide.

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhoea pillsA diarrhea is a medical condition in which a person passes loose, liquid or semi-liquid stools more than 2-3 times a day. This condition mainly arises due to electrolyte imbalance within the body that causes reduced consistency and abnormally increased volume of stools that can take the shape of a container it fills. In this condition, an excess quantity of watery stools gets accumulated within the rectum. It, therefore, becomes impossible for the rectum to store the excess fecal matters for a long time and necessitates urgent defecation. In extreme cases, the person involuntarily passes liquid stool due to the complete failure of the anorectal muscles to prevent the passage of stool. In many cases, diarrhea is self-limiting or may get cured with mild medications. But diarrhea persisting for more than 3 days needs urgent medical intervention.

What causes diarrhea?

Diarrhea is mainly caused by microbial agents. The commonly observed causes are listed below-

  • Bacteria: Bacteria invading the body via contaminated food or water may cause diarrhea. The most common bacterial agents causing diarrhea are Salmonella and Escherichia coli. They are usually found in certain food items like ground beef or sliced fruits (left exposed to open air for a long time).
  • Virus: The most common viral pathogen causing diarrhea is Rotavirus, which resolves on its own within 3-7 days but impedes lactose metabolism for a longer period of time. Other viral agents responsible for diarrhea are Norovirus, Herpes Simplex virus, and Cytomegalovirus.
  • Parasites: Parasites can also invade the human body through polluted food and fluids. Few viruses belonging to this category are- Giardia, Entamoeba, and Cryptosporidium.
  • Bowel disorders: Patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome experience inflammation or tumor growth in bowels and may be predisposed to diarrhea.
  • Intestinal diseases: A few acute intestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease or ulcerative colitis can increase risks of diarrhea in the future.
  • Food sensitivity: Few people lack the metabolic capacity to digest certain food items such as lactose or sugar substitutes. Consumption of these foods may lead to diarrhea.
  • Medications: Certain medications such as antibiotics, antacids (containing magnesium) or cancer drugs can induce diarrhea.
  • Congenital: Suboptimal breastfeeding or presence of infection within the mother’s body can cause diarrhea in infants through placental connection or breast milk.
  • Deficiency: Acute malnutrition or deficiency caused due to a diet lacking Vitamin A or essential micronutrient (zinc) may increase possibilities of diarrhea.
  • Hygiene: Poor sanitation, consumption of impure food (may cause food poisoning) and water and other unhygienic conditions (Eg: eating without washing hands) can cause diarrhea. 

Symptoms of diarrhea

Diarrhoea bacteriaDiarrhea is manifested through a few obvious symptoms which are described below-

  • Passage of semi-liquid to watery stools more than 2-3 times per day
  • Blood tinged stools (in extreme cases)
  • Blackish or brownish discoloration of stools
  • The obnoxious odor of stools
  • Accidental leakage of stool and mucous
  • Slimy sensation in the anus even after wiping
  • Stains left in underwear due to the passage of liquid stool unknowingly
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Suppresses urination
  • Abdominal distension due to the accumulation of gas
  • Acute dehydration (after frequent bouts of diarrhea)
  • Brownish discoloration of urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry skin (due to loss of water and salts)
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme fatigue and general body weakness
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Dryness of mouth and tongue
  • Sunken eyes and cheeks
  • Mild to high fever
  • Cramps and pain in legs

Types of diarrhea

Diarrhea is broadly classified into two categories according to the severity and duration of the disease. These are elaborated below-

  • Acute diarrhea: Acute diarrhea is caused by bacterial pathogens such as Campylobacter, Shigella or Salmonella. It may also be caused by a change of dietary habits or few over-the-counter medications. Acute diarrhea is usually not so persistent in nature and goes away before two weeks. It is characterized by a discharge of watery stools with a foul smell and associated symptoms such as abdominal swelling, pain and cramps. In a few cases, acute diarrhea also causes acute dehydration due to loss of body salts and fluids.
  • Chronic diarrhea: Chronic diarrhea is usually very persistent in nature (stays for several weeks) and is caused due to a few existing diseases such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It may gradually progress to ischemia of the gut, colon cancer or polyps.

A few other types of diarrhea are as follows-

  • Secretory diarrhea: It is caused due to an increased amount of fluid within the lumen of the bowel.
  • Osmotic diarrhea: It occurs due to loss of reabsorption capacity of the intestine.
  • Infectious diarrhea: It is caused due to the spread of viral and bacterial pathogens.
  • Non-infectious diarrhea: It is caused due to toxicity (by food or drugs) or due to existing diseases of the bowel.
  • Traveler’s diarrhea: It occurs due to frequent change of dietary and hygiene habits while traveling from one country to another within short intervals of time.

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic tests are performed for diarrhea-

  • Stool culture (to check for microbial pathogens)
  • Blood tests
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy (to study the colon)

Treatment and prevention

Diarrhoea toiletTreatment 

  • If diarrhea is caused due to bacterial or parasite infections, doctors will prescribe the patient with antibiotics. In case diarrhea is caused due to viral infections the doctor will prescribe medications that will help in treating the secondary symptoms such as fever and body ache.
  • Doctors generally recommend having a lot of fluids when a patient is diagnosed with diarrhea. For adults water, juices or sports drinks are the best options for fluids. In case, the patient is unable to retain fluids or if the fluids irritate their stomach, they may be given fluids intravenously.
  • For children who have been diagnosed with diarrhea, medications or supplements will be given to help increase the fluids in their body.
  • Medications to treat the underlying cause of diarrhea will be prescribed as well, to make sure that the patients’ condition does not get worse.
  • Supplements of potassium and sodium will be given as well, to ensure proper heart health.

Low FODMAP diet for diarrhea

Certain foods can cause the bowel to expand due to the absorption of water and the release of gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane. This expansion of the bowel is caused due to foods that are fermentable, short chained carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are found in common and widespread foods and are collectively termed as FODMAP foods.

FODMAP stands for:

F – Fermentable.

O – Oligosaccharides.

D – Disaccharides.

M – Monosaccharides.

A – and

P – Polysaccharides.

Cauliflower, garlic, onions; dairy products such as cow milk, goat milk, buttermilk, cream and other dairy products are high in FODMAPs. Consuming these foods may lead to diarrhea. Foods such as bananas, white bread, chicken, and oatmeal are low FODMAPs. Consuming these foods may help in relieving the symptoms of diarrhea. Since high FODMAP foods are difficult to digest, they cause gastrointestinal disorders. Following a low FODMAP diet, not only helps in relieving the symptoms and but also in preventing diarrhea.

Prevention 

    • Do not consume contaminated food.
    • Wash your hands frequently- before every meal, and after using the washroom.
    • Apply soap and lather for at least 20 seconds, this will help in killing off the bacteria.
    • Do not consume contaminated water or water from an unknown source.

Diarrhea home remedies

The first and foremost step to be taken in case of diarrhea is to drink plenty of water and ORS (oral rehydration solution) since dehydration is the most lethal outcome of any diarrheal disease. As mentioned before, a low FODMAP diet is critical in treating the symptoms of several digestive disorders including diarrhea. Low FODMAP foods such as carrots, cucumber, spinach, and unripe bananas should be consumed. This will reduce the strain on the gastrointestinal tract and speed up the recovery process.

One shouldn’t consume milk at all during diarrhea. However one should consume healthy probiotics such as yogurt. Other effective home remedies that can help reduce diarrheal symptoms are chamomile tea and honey mixed with warm water. Clear vegetable soups and broths are also helpful. These will help prevent dehydration and also help in  maintaining proper nutritional and electrolytic balance in the body.


TL;DR?

Facts

  • Those who have diarrhoea can lose up to 20 litres of fluid every day.
  • Diarrhoea that lasts longer than 1-2 days is due to underlying health problems.

Facts

  • Stress and nervousness can cause diarrhea. This is because stress hormones tend to speed up bowel movement process.
  • There are 1.7-5 billion cases of diarrhea reported every year. Out of which 7% die due to diarrhoeal diseases.

Facts

  • 20% death among children who are below the age of 5 is due to diarrhoeal diseases.
  • Diarrhoeal diseases are the 2nd most common cause of death among young children after pneumonia.
  • Diarrhea may appear just before or during a women’s menstrual cycle.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Stay hydrated, as diarrhea tends to reduce the water levels in the body.
  • Consume bland and steamed food such as boiled vegetables, chicken etc. As spicy or flavourful food may irritate your stomach and increase the number of time that you will need to go to the washroom.
  • Take rest; this is because your body tends to lose fluids when you have diarrhea.
Don'ts
  • Consume any spice or flavourful foods; they tend to irritate your stomach.
  • Indulge in any strenuous activities as the body is already low on energy.
  • Consume roughage rich foods as they can increase the frequency of washroom visits.

 

 

 

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Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
AUTOIMMUNE HEPATITIS liver
Hepatitis Profile A hepatitis profile or a hepatitis panel is a blood test that checks for markers of hepatitis infection…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
liver cleanse detox
14 go-to foods that are best for a complete natural liver detox Liver cleanse can be achieved by just choosing or avoiding certain types of food. Liver itself is a detoxifying…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
AHBC Igm
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) IgM Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC) IgM is an investigative procedure to detect the presence of IgM antibodies in…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Unbelievable health benefits of gooseberries (and a few tasty recipes) Gooseberries are antioxidant-rich tasty fruits that can be easily added in daily diet to improve overall health and…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…