Diarrhoea is a condition characterized by the frequent passage of loose watery bowel motions usually 4 or 5 times a day or more than usual. It happens when the intestines secrete excessive fluids or it fails to absorb body fluids leading to excessive loss of fluids and causing dehydration. It usually lasts for a few days and gets cleared on its own, but if it lasts for more than a week, it is better to get diagnosed for some underlying health conditions or infections.
Diarrhoea is of two types:
It usually lasts for 2 to 3 days and is usually caused due to bacterial (e.g., Salmonella enterica, Shigella, Escherichia coli), viral (e.g., Norovirus, Rhinovirus) or parasitic (e.g., Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica) invasion, which leads to gastroenteritis.
Traveller’s Diarrhoea is an acute form which occurs due to microbial invasion in the body through contaminated food and water when travelling to some different place. Also Read: Contaminated Food Can Lead To Traveller’s Diarrhea
It is a type of diarrhoea that lasts for more than a week. It can occur due to some particular food allergy or medications. It can also cause due to some surgery, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, chronic bowel infection, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, ulcerative colitis or bowel cancer.
The specific symptoms of diarrhoea include:
- Loose watery stools
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal cramping
- Loss of control of bowel motions
- Urgency to urinate
- Blood and mucus in stool
- Lack of energy
- Dizziness, like in vertigo
Diagnosis and Treatment
The mild or acute form of diarrhoea may stop on its own but if it is a chronic form, it is strongly advised to consult a gastroenterologist or medical practitioner right away. The doctor does a thorough physical check-up to look for signs of dehydration and also ask about the patient’s medical history to know about any food or medication allergy.
The physical test is followed by stool test and blood test to suggest specific treatment.
Although the mild form gets self-treated within 3 to 4 days, the doctor may suggest to up the intake of fluids to reduce dehydration. One needs to drink plenty of water, ingest oral rehydration fluids, diluted fruit juices. Also Read: World ORS Day: Learn How Oral Rehydration Salts Can Save Lives
The first few days the patient is mostly advised to have a liquid diet followed by soft, bland lightly cooked veggies after 40 to 48 hours once the symptoms slowly reduce.
The chronic diarrhoea mostly requires prescribed anti-diarrhoeal medications, antibiotics and supplements.