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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Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
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…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
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…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
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…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
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…
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…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called Antiphospholipid syndrome linked…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…