Diarrhea is among the most common health issues. In terms of severity, it ranges from a mild, temporary condition to a life-threatening one. Recent research has revealed that approximately 2 billion cases of diarrhea occur every year. Also, about 1.9 million kids under the age of 5 years, majorly in developing nations, succumb to the disease each year. These numbers imply that this health issue is the second leading cause of death in children.
Diarrhea is usually characterized by unusual watery or loose stool. If a patient frequently passes stool, but it is of normal consistency, this may not be considered as diarrhea. Similarly, breastfed infants usually pass sticky loose stools, and this is considered normal. This guide focuses on the causes, diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment plans, such as diarrhea tablets and other effective diarrhea management options.
Causes of diarrhea
Most causes of diarrhea are associated with some form of infection in the patient’s gastrointestinal tract. Some of the microbes responsible for such infections include viruses, bacteria, and parasitic organisms. So far, the most commonly identified causes of diarrhea include bacteria Campylobacter, Escherichia Coli, Salmonella, and Shigella.
Note that cases of acute diarrhea are referred to as functional because though the patient’s digestive organs seem normal, they are not functioning as expected. In most developed countries, irritable bowel syndrome is the top cause of functional diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome causes different symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, and inconsistent bowel habits, which might include constipation, diarrhea, or both.
Another common health issue linked to chronic diarrhea is inflammatory bowel disease. This is either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These two health conditions can cause issues such as blood in the patient’s stool. Here are other common causes of acute diarrhea.
Chronic infections: The use of antibiotics or a history of travel can cause acute diarrhea. Various parasites and bacteria can also be a cause.
Microscopic colitis: Persistent type of acute diarrhea that often affects older adults. This health condition develops due to inflammation and often occurs at night.
Drug-induced diarrhea: Antibiotics, laxatives, and other drugs can trigger issues in patients.
Cancer-related courses: a unique type of diarrhea known as neoplastic diarrhea is linked to different types of gut cancers.
Keep in mind that there are many causes of diarrhea. Some of these causes include endocrine-related causes, maldigestion causes, and malabsorptive causes of diarrhea. If you or your loved one is battling with diarrhea issues, it is recommended to seek immediate medical attention to get diagnosed and treated by an expert.
Symptoms of diarrhea
Some of the common symptoms of diarrhea include;
- Abdominal cramps
- Stomach pain
- body ache
- Weight loss
- Persistent vomiting
Keep in mind that some of these symptoms may indicate other health problems. Therefore, it is in your best interest to talk to a pharmacist or your doctor to get diagnosed for diarrhea or any other underlying health issue.
Treatment options for diarrhea patients
Many mild cases of diarrhea may resolve without any treatment. However, chronic or persistent diarrhea requires medical attention, particularly from a medical expert who can diagnose and treat underlying issues in addition to their usual symptoms of diarrhea. Here are the recommended treatment options.
Older adults and children suffering from diarrhea are more susceptible to dehydration. It is recommended to replace lost fluids while drinking more fluids. In severe cases of diarrhea, the patient may need intravenous fluids.
Your doctor may also recommend oral rehydration solutions or salts. This is simply water that contains glucose and salt. Taking ORS offers the patient’s small intestines a chance to absorb the solution to replace electrolytes and water lost in the loose stool.
Zinc supplements may also minimize the duration and severity of diarrhea in kids. Though there are many products being sold online that did promise to stop diarrhea within a short time, you should first talk to your doctor before you purchase or use such products. This is particularly important for patients with underlying health conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes.
Most people battling with diarrhea usually opt for over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication. These drugs include bismuth subsalicylate and loperamide. Imodium is considered an antimotility drug that minimizes stool passage. It’s available in most physical pharmacies and even online pharmacies.
Pepto-Bismol minimizes diarrhea stool output in both children and adults. The drug can also prevent travelers’ diarrhea. This product is available over the counter (pharmacies) and most online stores that deal with prescription drugs.
Keep in mind that there is a growing concern that some anti-diarrhea medication might prolong bacterial infections by minimizing the removal of pathogens via stool. This is why you should speak to your doctor before you take any medication to treat diarrhea issues. Antibiotics can also treat diarrhea if it is caused by bacteria infections. Just like most prescription drugs are out there, you shouldn’t take antibiotics without your doctor’s guidance.
Another effective way of treating diarrhea is by implementing the right diet. Some of the nutrition tips to help you minimize diarrhea include;
- Take a lot of clear fluids such as water, fruit juice without added sugar, and electrolyte drinks.
- Drink fluids between your meals, not during your meals.
- Eat food high in soluble fiber like oatmeal, rice, and bananas as which foods could thicken your stool.
- Consume foods high in sodium and liquids like sports drinks, broth, and salted crackers
There are many beverages and foods that you can take to manage diarrhea and other gut issues. Talk to a nutritionist or your doctor to learn the specific foods and beverages you should attack and the ones that you should avoid.
When diagnosed and treated and on time, diarrhea is curable in adults and children. However, failure to seek medical attention could lead to chronic diarrhea and other health issues such as dehydration. As much as you want to purchase over the counter drugs, it is in your best interest to seek reliable medical attention from a reputable healthcare facility.
Disclaimer: Content from the ConsciousLifeNews.com website and blog is not intended to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.