Diarrhea -causes, Symptoms, Treatment

By: james sameul

What is Diarrhea
Diarrhea can be defined in absolute or relative terms based on either the frequency of bowel movements or the consistency (looseness) of stools.

Diarrhea is loose, watery stools. A person with diarrhea typically passes stool more than three times a day. 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. Prolonged diarrhea persisting for more than 2 days may be a sign of a more serious problem and poses the risk of dehydration. Chronic diarrhea may be a feature of a chronic disease.

The loose-stool consistency that characterizes diarrhea usually lasts a few days at most. Diarrhea often means more-frequent trips to the toilet and a greater volume of stool. Some common causes of loose, watery stools and abdominal cramps are infections from viruses, bacteria or parasites. Other causes include medications - particularly antibiotics - and artificial sweeteners.

Causes of Diarrhea
Diarrhea is most commonly caused by viral infections, parasites or bacterial toxins.[1] In sanitary living conditions where there is ample food and a supply of clean water, an otherwise healthy patient usually recovers from viral infections in a few days. However, for ill or malnourished individuals diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration and can become life-threatening without treatment.
Bacteria and parasites. Contaminated food or water can transmit bacteria and parasites to your body. Parasites such as Giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium can cause diarrhea. Common bacterial causes of diarrhea include campylobacter, salmonella, shigella and Escherichia coli. This type of diarrhea can be common for people traveling to developing countries.

Tap water (A common mistake travelers make is to avoid tap water but to place ice cubes in a beverage. Contaminated ice is still able to transmit disease. Do not use ice cubes.)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.

Symptoms of Diarrhea
The common illness, which may last several days, often called "intestinal flu," is often due to one of a number of viruses that infect the bowel, making it weep fluid. The excess of fluid in the bowel leads to liquid stools. The inflammation may also be associated with cramping abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Other common infectious diarrheas may be caused by bacteria. These bacteria irritate the bowel and make it pour out fluid. The inflammation may also be associated with cramping abdominal pain. "Travelers' diarrhea" is due to particular bacteria common in certain areas of the world.

Treatment of Diarrhea
Most cases of diarrhea clear on their own within a few days without treatment. If you seek medical attention, your doctor likely will advise you to take steps to replace the fluids and salts lost during diarrhea.Medicines that stop diarrhea should not be used for people whose diarrhea is caused by bacterial infection or a parasite because they may prolong the infection. In these cases, antibiotics are typically recommended. Depending on the severity and type of virus, viral caused diarrhea is either treated with medication or left to run its course.

Try to eat. The food does not need to be bland, but try to avoid greasy or fatty foods. Infants and children should be encouraged to eat bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast-the BRAT diet-a combination used for decades to treat diarrhea. If diarrhea is accompanied by nausea, suck on ice chips until the nausea stops. After the diarrhea stops, avoid alcoholic beverages and spicy foods for 2 more days.

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

» More on Bowel Problems