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?

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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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vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
carbamazepine
Carbamazepine / Tegretol test The carbamazepine is a drug that is used to treat epilepsy and the carbamazepine test is performed to…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Chondroitin spine health
9 amazing ways chondroitin can help you bounce back to health Chondroitin is naturally found in meat, especially in the connective tissues of animals. Chondroitin works by reducing the…
Sharpen your brain with these top brain-friendly foods! Did you know your diet could decide how razor sharp your memory is? Or that what you eat…
Hymenoplasty
Hymenoplasty Read on to find out all about hymenoplasty, the procedure, post-surgery care, the risks, and the benefits.
smelling-salts-benefits
The actual science behind smelling salts and how it helps in injury recovery Most smelling salts are a mixture of ammonium carbonate and some perfumes which are sniffed by an individual…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
glucose-tolerance
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – GTT Glucose tolerance test (or Oral GTT) is used to detect the onset of diabetes or prediabetes conditions. It…
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)…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
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…
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.
ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
lipoprotein A
Lipoprotein (A) Test Lipoprotein (A) test is used to measure and monitor the levels of LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) in the bloodstream in…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
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…
PREGNANCY
Pregnancy During pregnancy, the body undergoes a number of biological and physical changes to accommodate and provide for the…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
Helicobacter pylori IGA
Helicobacter Pylori – IgA Test The H.pylori IgA test is a blood test used to identify the level of IgA antigen in the…
Threatened abortion
A few facts about threatened abortion A threatened miscarriage indicates an early pregnancy loss. Look out for symptoms like bleeding, vaginal discharge, and pain.
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
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),…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
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?…
piles
Best treatment for piles in Bangalore All you need to know about piles and piles treatment in Bangalore - the types of treatment available,…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
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…
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…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
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,…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
labiaplasty
Labiaplasty Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to modify the labia minora and the labia majora. Learn about who can…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But did you know…
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…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
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…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
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…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
free testosterone test
Free testosterone Free Testosterone Test measures and monitors the level of the free testosterone in the blood. Less than 4%…
toxo gondii igm test
Toxo Gondii-IgM Test The toxo gondii IgM test is a blood test that tells the presence or absence of toxoplasmosis IgM…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
Crossfit with rope
CrossFit: Now get the perfectly sculpted body with this explosive gym routine CrossFit is a fitness regimen that makes use of high-intensity exercises in a shorter period to achieve muscle…
Bloodtestalbumin
Albumin Test Albumin test or blood serum test is a liver function test that measures the amount of the protein…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…

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