Overview Of Diarrhea
Diarrhea is loose, watery stools (bowel movements). You have this condition if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. Acute diarrhea is loose stools that last a short time. It is a common problem. It usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer. Then it goes away on its own.
Diarrhea lasting more than a few days may be a sign of a more serious problem. Chronic diarrhea — loose stools that last at least four weeks — can be a symptom of chronic disease. Chronic symptoms may be continual, or they may come and go.
Causes Of Diarrhea
The most common causes of diarrhea include:
- Bacteria from contaminated food or water
- Viruses such as the flu, norovirus, or rotavirus. Rotavirus is the most common cause of acute forms of the condition in children.
- Parasites, which are tiny organisms found in contaminated food or water
- Medicines such as antibiotics, cancer drugs, and antacids that contain magnesium
- Food intolerances and sensitivities, which are problems digesting certain ingredients or foods. An example is lactose intolerance.
- Diseases that affect the stomach, small intestine, or colon, such as Crohn’s disease
- Problems with how the colon functions, such as irritable bowel syndrome
- Some people also get diarrhea after stomach surgery, because sometimes the surgeries can cause food to move through your digestive system more quickly.
Sometimes no cause can be found. If your loose stools go away within a few days, finding the cause is usually not necessary.
Other possible symptoms of diarrhea include:
- Cramps or pain in the abdomen
- An urgent need to use the bathroom
- Loss of bowel control
- If a virus or bacteria is the cause of your loose stools, you may also have a fever, chills, and bloody stools.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which means that your body does not have enough fluid to work properly. Dehydration can be serious, especially for children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
Treatment Of Diarrhea
This condition is treated by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Depending on the cause of the problem, you may need medicines to stop the loose stools or treat an infection.
Adults with diarrhea should drink water, fruit juices, sports drinks, sodas without caffeine, and salty broths. As your symptoms improve, you can eat soft, bland food.
Children with this condition should be given oral rehydration solutions to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.