Diarrhea : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment

What is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea — unfastened, watery and in all likelihood more-frequent bowel actions — is a common hassle. It may be present by myself or be associated with different signs and symptoms, along with nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or weight loss.

Luckily, diarrhea is normally brief-lived, lasting on a variety of days. But when diarrhea lasts beyond a few days into weeks, it normally shows that there is any other trouble — consisting of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a more serious ailment, which include chronic infection, celiac ailment or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Medical terms

Diarrhea is a medical term used to describe loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. It is a common gastrointestinal condition that can be caused by various factors. Here are some key points about diarrhea:

  • Definition: Diarrhea is characterized by an increase in the frequency, volume, and water content of bowel movements.

  • Causes: There are numerous causes of diarrhea, including viral or bacterial infections (gastroenteritis), food poisoning, parasites, certain medications, food allergies or intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and other gastrointestinal disorders.

  • Symptoms: Besides loose, watery stools, diarrhea may be accompanied by symptoms such as abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, and urgency to have a bowel movement.

  • Dehydration: Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, especially if it is severe or lasts for an extended period. It is crucial to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially in vulnerable populations like young children and the elderly.

  • Treatment: Treatment for diarrhea often depends on the underlying cause. Mild cases may resolve on their own, but it's essential to stay hydrated. Over-the-counter medications like loperamide can be used to reduce the frequency of bowel movements, but they should not be used if the diarrhea is caused by certain infections or toxins.

  • When to Seek Medical Attention: If diarrhea is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms like fever, bloody stools, or severe abdominal pain, it's important to seek medical attention promptly.

  • Preventive Measures: Practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly, avoiding contaminated food or water, and getting vaccinated for diseases like rotavirus, can help prevent diarrhea.

As always, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment if you or someone you know is experiencing diarrhea, especially if it is persistent or concerning.

Symptoms diarrhea

Signs and signs and symptoms related to diarrhea (free, watery stools) may additionally consist of:

  • Abdominal cramps or pain

  • Bloating

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fever

  • Blood in the stool

  • Mucus in the stool

  • Urgent want to have a bowel motion

  • When to see a health practitioner

If you are an adult, see your doctor if:

  • Your diarrhea persists past  days with no improvement

  • You turn out to be dehydrated

  • You have excessive stomach or rectal pain

  • You have bloody or black stools

  • You have a fever above 102 F (39 C)

In kids, specifically younger kids, diarrhea can quickly result in dehydration. Call your health practitioner in case your child's diarrhea does not enhance within 24 hours or if your toddler:

  • Becomes dehydrated

  • Has a fever above 102 F (39 C)

  • Has bloody or black stools

Causes Diarrhea

A quantity of diseases and situations can purpose diarrhea, consisting of:

  • Viruses. Viruses that may cause diarrhea encompass Norwalk virus (also called norovirus), enteric adenoviruses, astrovirus, cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis. Rotavirus is a not unusual cause of acute childhood diarrhea. The virus that causes coronavirus disorder 2019 (COVID-19) has additionally been associated with gastrointestinal signs and symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Bacteria and parasites. Exposure to pathogenic bacteria, including E. Coli or parasites through infected food or water, leads to diarrhea. When touring in growing international locations, diarrhea caused by microorganisms and parasites is often referred to as traveler's diarrhea. Clostridium difficile (also referred to as C. Diff) is every other sort of bacterium that causes diarrhea, and it may occur after a course of antibiotics or for the duration of a hospitalization.

  • Medications. Many medicines, along with antibiotics, can cause diarrhea. Antibiotics alleviate infections by killing horrific micro organisms, however additionally they kill appropriate bacteria. This disturbs the natural balance of microorganisms for your intestines, leading to diarrhea or a superimposed contamination along with C. Diff. Other tablets that cause diarrhea are anti-cancer capsules and antacids with magnesium.

  • Lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. People who have difficulty digesting lactose have diarrhea after eating dairy merchandise. Lactose intolerance can boom with age because degrees of the enzyme that helps digest lactose drop as you become old.

  • Fructose. Fructose is a sugar observed evidently in culmination and honey. It's every so often added as a sweetener to sure beverages. Fructose can lead to diarrhea in people who've trouble digesting it.

  • Artificial sweeteners. Sorbitol, erythritol and mannitol — synthetic sweeteners are non absorbable sugars discovered in chewing gum and other sugar-unfastened merchandise — can motivate diarrhea in some otherwise wholesome people.

  • Surgery. Partial gut or gallbladder elimination surgeries can every now and then cause diarrhea.

  • Other digestive problems. Chronic diarrhea has some other causes, consisting of IBS, Crohn's sickness, ulcerative colitis, celiac disorder, microscopic colitis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

  1. Viral infections: Common viruses like norovirus, rotavirus, or adenovirus can lead to diarrhea.

  2. Bacterial infections: Bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter can cause diarrhea, often due to contaminated food or water.

  3. Parasitic infections: Parasites like Giardia or Cryptosporidium can lead to diarrhea.

  4. Food intolerance: Some people may have difficulty digesting certain foods, such as lactose or gluten, leading to diarrhea.

  5. Medications: Certain drugs or antibiotics can trigger diarrhea as a side effect.

  6. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD): Conditions like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis can cause chronic diarrhea.

  7. Stress or anxiety: Emotional factors can sometimes result in diarrhea.

Complications Diarrhea

Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which can be life-threatening if untreated. Dehydration is mainly risky in youngsters, older adults and those with weakened immune structures.

If you have signs of great dehydration, seek clinical help.

Indications of dehydration in adults

These encompass:

  • Excessive thirst

  • Dry mouth or pores and skin

  • Little or no urination

  • Weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Fatigue

  • Dark-coloured urine

Indications of dehydration in infants and young children

These consist of:

  • Not having a wet diaper in 3 or greater hours

  • Dry mouth and tongue

  • Fever above 102 F (39 C)

  • Crying without tears

  • Drowsiness, unresponsiveness or irritability

  • Sunken look to the stomach, eyes or cheeks

Diarrhea after eating

Food poisoning is a very unpleasant experience. It usually comes on suddenly after eating contaminated food and results in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you have food poisoning, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. You may also need to take antidiarrheal medication to stop the diarrhea.

Many people experience diarrhea after eating. This is often caused by eating foods that are high in fat, sugar, or artificial additives. Other things that can contribute to diarrhea after eating include eating too much, eating too fast, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, and stress.

Diarrhea and vomiting

Many people experience diarrhea and vomiting during the early stages of pregnancy. In fact, up to half of all pregnant women will have at least one bout of diarrhea, and about one-third will vomit. Although these symptoms can be quite unpleasant, they are usually not serious and will go away on their own.

Both diarrhea and vomiting can be symptoms of a number of different illnesses, from the relatively minor (such as a stomach virus) to more serious conditions (like food poisoning or appendicitis). In most cases, the best course of action is to drink plenty of fluids and wait for the illness to run its course. However, if you are experiencing severe diarrhea or vomiting, or if you have a high fever, you should seek medical attention.

  • If you're experiencing diarrhea, there are a few things you can do to help ease the symptoms and get relief. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to stay hydrated. Eat light and bland foods such as rice, toast, or bananas. Get rest. And if your diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, fever, or blood in your stool, seek medical attention right away.

Can diarrhea be treated at home?

  • Yes, diarrhea can be treated at home. In fact, most cases of diarrhea can be successfully treated with home remedies. There are a number of different home remedies that can be used to treat diarrhea, including: drinking fluids, eating bland foods, taking probiotics, drinking ginger tea, and taking over-the-counter medications such as loperamide.

  • Most cases of diarrhea can be treated at home with simple self-care measures. These include drinking plenty of fluids, eating bland foods, and avoiding dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol. Over-the-counter medications such as loperamide (Imodium) can also be helpful in controlling symptoms.

Prevention Diarrhea

Preventing infectious diarrhea

Wash your arms to prevent the unfolding of infectious diarrhea. To make certain adequate hand-washing:

  • Wash often. Wash your hands before and after getting ready meals. Wash your fingers after managing uncooked meat, the usage of the rest room, changing diapers, sneezing, coughing and blowing your nose.

  • Lather with cleaning soap for a minimum 20 seconds. After putting cleaning soap to your hands, rub your fingers together for a minimum 20 seconds. This is about as lengthy as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" two times via.

  • Using hand sanitizer while washing isn't always viable. Use an alcohol-based totally hand sanitizer while you can not get to a sink. Apply the hand sanitizer as you would hand lotion, making sure to cover the fronts and backs of both arms. Use a product that consists of a minimum 60% alcohol.


You can help protect your little one from rotavirus, the most commonplace cause of viral diarrhea in youngsters, with certainly one of two accepted vaccines. Ask your child's health practitioner approximately having your child vaccinated.

Preventing traveler's diarrhea

Diarrhea generally influences those who journey to nations where there's insufficient sanitation and infected food. To reduce your chance:

  • Watch what you consume. Eat hot, properly-cooked meals. Avoid uncooked culmination and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself. Also avoid uncooked or undercooked meats and dairy foods.

  • Watch what you drink. Drink bottled water, soda, beer or wine served in its original container. Avoid faucet water and ice cubes. Use bottled water even for brushing your teeth. Keep your mouth closed while you shower.

  • Beverages made with boiled water, along with espresso and tea, are probably safe. Remember that alcohol and caffeine can irritate diarrhea and worsen dehydration.

  • Ask your physician approximately antibiotics. If you are visiting a growing US for a prolonged time, ask your physician about antibiotics before you move, mainly if you have a weakened immune gadget.

  • Check for journey warnings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a vacationers' health internet site in which sickness warnings are published for numerous international locations. If you are making plans to travel outside of the United States, test there for warnings and hints for lowering your danger.

Diagnosis Diarrhea

Your physician will ask approximately your medical history, assess the medications you take, conduct a physical examination and may order exams to decide what is inflicting your diarrhea. Possible tests include:

  • Blood test. An entire blood relay takes a look at, dimension of electrolytes and kidney feature exams can assist suggest the severity of your diarrhea.

  • Stool check. Your health practitioner might recommend a stool check to look if a bacteria or parasite is causing your diarrhea.

  • Hydrogen breath test. This form of test can assist your health practitioner decide when you have a lactose intolerance. After you drink a liquid that includes high ranges of lactose, your doctor measures the amount of hydrogen to your breath at ordinary durations. Breathing out too much hydrogen suggests that you are not absolutely digesting and absorbing lactose.

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Using a thin, lighted tube that is inserted on your rectum, your physician can see the interior of your colon. The tool is also geared up with a tool that permits your physician to take a small pattern of tissue (biopsy) from your colon. Flexible sigmoidoscopy provides a view of the lower colon, whilst colonoscopy permits the health practitioner to peer the whole colon.

  • Upper endoscopy. Doctors use a protracted, skinny tube with a digicam at the give up to take a look at your belly and upper small gut. They may additionally do away with a tissue sample (biopsy) for evaluation in the laboratory.

Treatment Diarrhea

Most instances of acute diarrhea clear on their own inside a couple of days without remedy. If you have attempted lifestyle changes and home treatments for diarrhea without achievement, your doctor may recommend medicines or different remedies.

Antibiotics or anti-parasitics

Antibiotics or anti-parasitic medications would possibly assist in dealing with diarrhea resulting from bacteria or parasites. If a pandemic is causing your diarrhea, antibiotics won't help.

Treatment to update fluids

Your medical doctor likely will endorse you to replace the fluids and salts. For most adults, that means consuming water with electrolytes, juice or broth. If drinking beverages upsets your stomach or causes vomiting, your medical doctor would possibly endorse getting IV fluids.

Water is a good way to replace fluids, however it does not incorporate the salts and electrolytes — minerals along with sodium and potassium — which can be critical for your frame to feature. You can assist keep your electrolyte levels by way of drinking fruit juices for potassium or eating soups for sodium. But certain fruit juices, along with apple juice, might make diarrhea worse.

For children, ask your medical doctor approximately the usage of an oral rehydration answer, inclusive of Pedialyte, to prevent dehydration or update misplaced fluids.

Adjusting medications you are taking

If your doctor determines that an antibiotic prompted your diarrhea, he or she would possibly lower your dose or transfer to any other remedy.

Treating underlying situations

If your diarrhea is due to a more severe condition, such as inflammatory bowel sickness, your doctor will paint to govern that situation. You are probably referred to a specialist, including a gastroenterologist, who can help devise a remedy plan for you.

Lifestyle and domestic remedies

Diarrhea typically clears up quickly without remedy. To help you cope with your signs and symptoms and symptoms until the diarrhea goes away, try to do the following:

  • Drink masses of beverages, inclusive of water, broths and juices. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

  • Add semisolid and low-fiber ingredients gradually as your bowel actions return to everyday. Try soda crackers, toast, eggs, rice or bird.

  • Avoid certain meals which include dairy products, fatty meals, high-fiber ingredients or noticeably seasoned ingredients for a few days.

  • Ask approximately for anti-diarrheal medicines. Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicinal drugs, which include loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate, might help reduce the wide variety of watery bowel movements and control extreme symptoms.

  • Certain medical conditions and infections — bacterial and parasitic — may be worsened by these medicinal drugs due to the fact they prevent your frame from casting off what's inflicting the diarrhea. Some of these medications aren't advocated for kids. Check along with your health practitioner earlier than taking these medicinal drugs or giving them to a child.

  • Consider taking probiotics. These microorganisms may additionally help repair a wholesome stability to the intestinal tract by boosting the level of good bacteria, although it is now not clean if they are able to assist shorten a bout of diarrhea. Probiotics are to be had in tablet or liquid form and are also brought to a few ingredients, such as positive manufacturers of yogurt. Further research is needed to better understand which lines of micro organisms are most useful or what doses are wanted.

Preparing in your appointment

You would possibly begin with the aid of seeing your number one care practitioner. If you have got continual diarrhea, you'll be referred to a health practitioner who specializes inside the digestive device (gastroenterologist).

Here's a few information that will help you get geared up for your appointment.

What you could do

When you're making the appointment, ask if there's whatever you want to do earlier, such as fast before positive assessments. Make a listing of:

  • Your signs, together with once they commenced and any that may appear unrelated to the motive for which you scheduled the appointment.

  • Key non-public facts, together with any principal stresses, latest life modifications or journey.

  • Medications, vitamins or supplements you are taking, which include doses. If you have lately taken an antibiotic, note what type, for the way long and when you stopped.

  • Questions to invite your physician.

For diarrhea, some simple inquiries to ask your doctor consist of:

  • What is possibly causing my diarrhea?

  • Could my diarrhea be caused by a medication I'm taking?

  • What assessments do I want?

  • Is my diarrhea possibly temporary or continual?

  • What is the pleasant route of action?

  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach which you're suggesting?

  • I produce other fitness conditions. How can I nicely control them with diarrhea?

  • Are there regulations I ought to comply with?

  • May I take a remedy inclusive of loperamide to sluggish the diarrhea down?

  • Should I see an expert?

What to anticipate from your health practitioner

Your doctor is in all likelihood to ask you questions, together with:

  • When did your signs and symptoms start?

  • Have your signs and symptoms been non-stop or occasional?

  • How severe are your signs?

  • What, if anything, seems to improve your signs?

  • What, if whatever, seems to worsen your signs and symptoms?

  • Does your diarrhea wake you up at night?

  • Do you spot blood, or are your bowel actions black in color?

  • Have you recently been around all and sundry who have diarrhea?

  • Have you recently stayed in a clinic or nursing home?

  • Have you taken antibiotics lately?

General summary

  1. As always, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment if you or someone you know is experiencing persistent or severe diarrhea. The doctor can help identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate recommendations

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