Diarrhea Symptoms and Causes

By: Rachel Broune

Diarrhea is a watery evacuation of the bowels, without blood.Passing frequent and loose stools that can be watery. Acute diarrhea goes away in a few weeks, and becomes chronic when it lasts longer than 4 weeks. Diarrhea is an infectious disease that affects the intestines and can result in dehydration and death. It is especially prevalent among children in developing countries. Diarrhea can cause dehydration rapidly in small infants and very young children. It can be treated with a mild infusion of meadowsweet, rosemary, and/or red raspberry. Uncontrolled, loose, and frequent bowel movements caused by diet, infection, medication, and irritation or inflammation of the intestine. Severe or prolonged diarrhea can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. People with diarrhea may pass more than a quart of stool a day. Acute diarrhea is a common problem that usually lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own without special treatment.

Causes of Diarrhea
Bacterial infections. Several types of bacteria consumed through contaminated food or water can cause diarrhea. Common culprits include Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Campylobacter bacteria: Infants and young adults are most commonly affected by these infections, especially during the summer. The bacteria are often found in raw and undercooked chicken.
Shigella bacteria: Shigella infection (called shigellosis) spreads easily in families, hospitals, and child-care centers. Kids 2 to 4 years old are the most likely to be infected.


Giardia parasite: Infection with Giardia (called giardiasis) is easily spread through child-care settings and contaminated water supplies, especially water parks and pools (the bacteria are resistant to chlorine treatment), children's "touch tanks" in aquariums and museums, and contaminated streams or lakes.
Viral infections. Many viruses cause diarrhea, including rotavirus, Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, and viral hepatitis.
Food intolerances. Some people are unable to digest food components such as artificial sweeteners and lactose-the sugar found in milk.
Parasites. Parasites can enter the body through food or water and settle in the digestive system. Parasites that cause diarrhea include Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, and Cryptosporidium.
Intestinal diseases. Inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease often lead to diarrhea.
Functional bowel disorders. Diarrhea can be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome.
Treatment options for Diarrhea
Your body needs adequate levels of salts and electrolytes - minerals such as sodium and potassium - in order to maintain the electric currents that keep your heart beating. Disruption of your body's fluid and mineral levels creates an electrolyte imbalance. Unless restored by replacing fluids and drinking an electrolyte mixture, this imbalance can be serious.
If a parasitic infection caused your diarrhea, prescription antibiotics may ease your symptoms. Antibiotics sometimes, but not always, help ease signs and symptoms of bacterial diarrhea. However, antibiotics won't help viral diarrhea
If you have a mild case of diarrhea, you can just let it run its course, or you can treat it with an over-the-counter medicine.Common brand names include Pepto-Bismol, Imodium A-D and Kaopectate, which are available as liquids or tablets. Follow the instructions on the package.
Keep bathroom surfaces clean to help prevent the spread of infectious germs.
Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating, since food and water also can carry infectious germs.
Wash kitchen counters and cooking utensils thoroughly after they've been in contact with raw meat, especially poultry.
Refrigerate meats as soon as possible after bringing them home from the supermarket, and cook them until they're no longer pink. After meals, refrigerate all leftovers as soon as possible.
Never drink from streams, springs, or lakes unless local health authorities have certified that the water is safe for drinking. In some developing countries, it may be safer to drink only bottled water and other drinks rather than water from a tap. Also, exercise caution when buying prepared foods from street vendors, especially if no local health agency oversees their operations.
Don't wash pet cages or bowls in the same sink that you use to prepare family meals.
Keep pets' feeding areas (especially those of reptiles) separate from family eating areas.

Bowel Problems
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Bowel Problems
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles