Diarrhea – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Diarrhea can be defined as the frequent need to pass stool which is watery and loose. This condition might last for days, depending on the acuteness of the problem. Diarrhea can have many forms and it is important to distinguish between them before you start any treatment. Having bowel movements after every meal, suddenly feeling the need to go to the toilet or not being able to control the bowel movements for long are symptoms which are not exactly characterized as diarrhea but these conditions may accompany diarrhea.

Types of diarrhea

Generally, the diarrhea is divided into two types; the chronic diarrhea and the acute diarrhea. The acute diarrhea lasts from a few days till up to a week and the chronic diarrhea in most cases lasts more than weeks. The conditions and symptoms of diarrhea might vary depending on the type. Mentioned below are the five most common types of diarrhea;

  • Osmotic diarrhea: too much vitamin C and undigested fructose can be a cause of this type of diarrhea. In this case, the bowels often draw in too much excess water which is often the result of some pancreatic disease or even the use of laxatives.
  • Inflammatory diarrhea: the inflammation of the gut lining is caused y some bacterial or viral infection inside. This type of diarrhea can also be a result of colon cancer.
  • Motility related diarrhea: this type of diarrhea happens when the foods inside the intestines are moved through very quickly. Proper digestion does not take place and hence the required nutrients are not absorbed by the body.
  • Secrete diarrhea: this is the common result of more fluids being secreted by the gut or the proper fluids are not being absorbed properly.
  • Dysentery: this is also the result of excess water. Dysentery is a special case and somewhat different than diarrhea. Diarrhea is usually known to develop into dysentery at some point.

What causes acute and chronic diarrhea?

Gastroenteritis is the most common cause of acute diarrhea. It is accompanied by nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. People going through this type of diarrhea may experience a little fever. Another very common cause of the acute diarrhea is food poisoning which is caused by some bad harmful toxins produced by bacteria. These are formed in the food that is eaten. Acute diarrhea is also caused by the intake of drugs. There are also a few medicines which have been known tocause diarrhea. These include antibiotics, chemotherapy medicines, medication for irregular heartbeats and high blood pressure. Anxiety and too much consumption of alcohol and coffee may also cause this type of diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea can be more severe and hence their causes are also more serious and require greater attention. Chronic diarrhea can be a result of infections and diseases. The irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the irritable bowel disease (IBD) have been the known causes of chronic diarrhea. The Irritable Bowel Syndrome is caused by frequent and rapid passes of waste contents through the large intestine whereas the irritable bowel disease includes diseases such as the Crohn’s disease and the ulcerative colitis. Both of these diseases cause inflammation inside the colon. Frequent and unnecessary use of laxatives can also cause chronic diarrhea. To avoid the chronic diarrhea, some people also need to alter their dietary habits for example reducing the long term habit of consuming sugar free gums, coffee and even sweet candies.

How can diarrhea be treated?

  • Absorbents can be taken which make the waste material inside the small intestines less watery and loose.
  • Diarrhea which lasts for days always comes with the risk of dehydration as too much salt and water has been washed off your body. It is advisable to drink lots of fluids to cover up the loss of water from diarrhea.
  • It is also recommended to eat food instead of avoiding it. Many salts and nutrients have been washed away as a result of diarrhea hence you would need to increase the intake of food.
  • There are certain medicines which are available at the drugstores. They are specifically for diarrhea treatment and they increase the gut’s ability to absorb more watery making the stool less watery. These medicines also claim to decrease the frequency of bowel movements. You should always consult a doctor before deciding to take any medication.
  • Some pro biotic have also been known to cure diarrhea.

There are also many home remedies for treating diarrhea which is less severe. These remedies are for people who are allergic to medicines or don’t want to visit a doctor for diarrhea which is on a small scale. These remedies include;

  • The consumption of green tea or plain black tea. This has been a very effective treatment for diarrhea.
  • Shredded pieces of apple. The peel of apple contains fibers which will sooth the gut and adds fiber to the contents of the intestine.
  • Buttermilk and yogurt have been known to contain properties which cure the problem of diarrhea. The yogurt also has positive effects on the gut.
  • Swallow a teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
  • When diarrhea has lasted for more than a couple of days, there is a risk of dehydration. To avoid this, you should consume a glass of orange juice mixed with a little water and a pinch of salt.
  • Coconut water is also known to have hydrating effects on the body.

Diarrhea may develop into a serious problem if it is not prevented or cured properly, especially for children. Diarrhea caused by infectious diseases can be prevented by keeping toilets and homes clean. A habit of washing hands regularly should also be developed. A very popular cause of diarrhea is food poisoning which can mean that the food that you ate was poisoned because certain toxins were produced inside it by some bacteria. To avoid this problem, avoid eating at unhygienic stalls and also keep in mind that frozen or uncooked food has been known to have more bacteria and germs than hot food.