Most people have had to go through the enervating condition of diarrhea at least once in their lifetime. During diarrhea, people experience an upset stomach and loose, watery stools. It is a prevalent disease and is generally cured within a few days. However, sometimes diarrhea may last for more than two-three weeks. This is an indicator of chronic diarrhea. 

Here is everything that you need to know about diarrhea- meaning, symptoms, and treatment. 

Diarrhea and Dysentery- What’s the difference? 

Many people confuse diarrhea and dysentery. While they may seem similar, they are two different medical conditions. Diarrhea is a condition where one has bowel movements more than three times in a liquid form. Generally, this condition lasts for a day or two. Dysentery, on the other hand, is the inflammation of the intestines. Bloody diarrhea is one of the symptoms of dysentery. Hence, if you have diarrhea accompanied by blood, it is advised that you seek a professional’s help as soon as possible. 

Symptoms of Diarrhea- 

The diarrhea symptoms can vary from person to person. One may experience a combination of these symptoms or just a few. 

  • Loose liquid bowels more than thrice in a day 
  • A constant feeling of nausea 
  • Bloating in the belly  
  • Cramps in stomach 
  • Dehydration 
  • Frequent urge to poop
  • Weight loss 
  • Body ache 

Some severe symptoms include- 

  • Diarrhea and vomiting – this can be experienced together. It also can be a symptom of viral gastroenteritis.
  • Diarrhea and fever 
  • Bloody diarrhea or diarrhea with mucus 

If you experience any of the above symptoms, you must pay a visit to the doctor. Consult the best gastroenterologist & hepatologist in India for a proper diagnosis and treatment of the disease. 

Causes of Diarrhoea 

Also known as ‘stomach flu’, generally, diarrhea is caused by a virus. Other possible reasons for diarrhea can be, 

  • Food intolerance- Some people have food sensitivity meaning that they cannot digest a particular type of food. For example – some people are lactose intolerant.  
  • Eating stale food- Diarrhoea can also be caused by eating stale food or unhygienic food. 
  • Bacterial infection- A person can contract diarrhea through bacteria in contaminated water or food. Escherichia coli link (E. coli), Salmonella link, and Shigella link are bacteria types. 
  • Some of the diarrhea causes may include underlying conditions. Diseases of the intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), etc., can lead to diarrhea. 
  • Alcohol or drug abuse 
  • Laxative abuse 

In recent times, it has been observed that people experience diarrhea and fever as a symptom of COVID-19. According to researchers, several people are likely to have diarrhea after covid. This can be a dangerous symptom and needs to be treated as soon as possible. The dehydration from diarrhea, along with COVID-19, can affect a person’s lung and lead to pneumonia. Diarrhea can also lead to liver failure or other liver conditions. Hence, get a quick teleconsultation with a liver doctor to get diagnosed. 

Diarrhoea Treatment

Usually, acute diarrhea can be treated at home and can be cured within a day or two. You can consult your primary care doctor, who may prescribe you some medication. You can also be treated at home under an adult’s supervision. Diarrhea can lead to loss of water and nutrients. One should consult nutrition counselling services to regain the lost nutrients. 

Given below are few home remedies that can help in curing mild diarrhea at home. 

  • Rehydration – Diarrhoea can lead to loss of water content in the body. Hence, you must remain hydrated. You can drink a simple sugar, salt, and water solution or have lemon juice, to keep yourself hydrated. You can also have oral rehydration solutions as prescribed by the doctor. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as cola, coffee or alcohol.  
  • Recovery diet  –  You need a diet that will alleviate your diarrhea symptoms and will help you regain the lost nutrients. Usually, BRAT foods that are low fibre and high in starch are recommended. This includes- bananas, rice (white), applesauce, toast. Some other food items that can be tolerated are-  boiled or baked potatoes, baked chicken or chicken soup, oatmeal, etc.
  • Probiotics – Probiotics are packed with good bacteria that are healthy for your gut. They are live microorganisms that help in improving your condition. Some probiotics that you can consume are- yoghurt, dark chocolate, cottage cheese, etc. Probiotics are also available in the form of pills and tablets. However, consult your nutritionist or gastroenterologist before consuming any of the food mentioned above items or pills. 
  • Medications – If home remedies don’t alleviate your diarrhea symptoms, then you can switch to medications. Your doctor may prescribe you some medications to relieve diarrhea. Some of the over-the-counter drugs are bismuth subsalicylate, loperamide, etc. 

However, if diarrhea persists for more than a week, it can indicate chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhoea can result from several underlying conditions. In such a case, you should seek help from a professional. 

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