Diarrhea means an increased frequency or decreased consistency of bowel movements; Diarrhea best correlates with an increase in stool weight; stool weights above 10oz (300 gs) per day generally indicates diarrhea.
Diarrhea is also classified by physicians into acute, which lasts one or two weeks, and chronic, which continues for longer than 2 or 3 weeks. Diarrhea is an increase in the wateriness, volume, or frequency of bowel movements.
Causes of Diarrhea
Diarrhea is caused by infections or illnesses that either lead to excess production of fluids or prevent absorption of fluids. Also, certain substances in the colon, such as fats and bile acids, can interfere with water absorption and cause Diarrhea. Diarrhea occurs because more fluid passes through the large intestine (colon) than that organ can absorb. Mostly Diarrhea is caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses, often from food or water. Eating local food and drinking local water during travel can result in “traveler’s diarrhea.” Diarrhea can also be caused by reactions to medications (including some vitamins, minerals, and herbs) and artificial sweeteners (sorbitol and mannitol). People who are lactose-intolerant can get Diarrhea when they consume milk or dairy products. Diarrhea that results in blood in the stool, accompanied by fever or abdominal pain, could be caused by intestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease.
Symptoms of Diarrhea
Diarrheamay be accompanied by cramping, abdominal pain, nausea, an urgent need to use the bathroom, or loss of bowel control. Some infections that cause diarrhea can also cause a fever and chills or bloody stools.
Treatment of Diarrhea
Diarrhea usually is a self-limited disorder and often resolves without specific treatment. First endeavor should be to avert or treat dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) or intravenous fluids are the choices; ORS is preferred if possible. Over-the-Counter (OTC) medicines such as loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate) may help stop Diarrheain adults. However, people with bloody diarrhea—a sign of bacterial or parasitic infection—should not use these medicines. If diarrhea is caused by bacteria or parasites, over-the-counter medicines may prolong the problem, so doctors usually prescribe antibiotics instead. Medications to treat diarrhea in adults can be dangerous for infants and children and should only be given with a doctor’s guidance.
Signs of dehydration in adults include
- Less frequent urination than usual
- Dark-colored urine
- Dry skin
Signs of dehydration in infants and young children include
- Dry mouth and tongue
- No tears when crying
- No wet diapers for 3 hours or more
- Sunken eyes, cheeks, or soft spot in the skull
- High fever
- Listlessness or irritability
Recipe for preparing ORS at Home
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 8 tsp sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened orange juice without pulp
- 1 liter of water (4 1/2 cups)
Mix all the ingredients together, shake them well and offer it to the patient as frequently as possible.