Diarrhea

Summary about diarrhea

Diarrhea is the most frequent evacuation of feces, usually liquid. They are often accompanied by abdominal cramps, vomiting and fever. Diarrhea can be contagious when it is infectious in origin.
The cause of diarrhea is often viral in origin, such as gastroenteritis. When diarrhea is of infectious origin, it is estimated that about 70% of cases are viral and 30% bacterial. Diarrhea can also be related to the presence of a parasite.

Diarrhea, like constipation, can often be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome. The causes of diarrhea are many, for example, adverse effect of antibiotics, psychological problems, etc. Read all causes of diarrhea

 Acute diarrhea usually resolves within a few days. If diarrhea persists for more than 7 days, it is important to consult a doctor.

The main drug treatment is based on taking loperamide. In case of gastroenteritis and viral diarrhea, activated charcoal is often used. Probiotics are also often prescribed by the doctor or advised by the pharmacist to restore the intestinal flora.

To avoid dehydration during the acute phase of diarrhea, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to compensate for the loss of water and mineral salts. To limit the spread of those around you, wash your hands frequently. Read all the good diarrhea advice

Definition

Diarrhea is characterized by frequent passage of liquid stool (sometimes mixed with blood). Stool becomes watery when the colon does not absorb water properly.

Traveler
‘s diarrhea Traveler’s diarrhea is defined as the passing of 3 or more loose (watery) stools per day or in a 24-hour period, associated with at least one of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever or blood in the stool1 . The most common cause of traveler’s diarrhea is a bacterial infection, primarily caused by enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC).

Diarrhea can be of short duration (2 to 3 days) or extend over a longer period, as is the case with bacterial diarrhea (eg cholera). Diarrhea is not really an illness, but rather a symptom of infection or illness.

In the case of diarrhea, the volume of the stool can be composed of up to 90% water, at this stage the risk of dehydration is very high.

Some more vulnerable people, such as children, infants and the elderly, should be very careful with dehydration and drink plenty of fluids during diarrhea to compensate for the loss of water and mineral salts.

Chronic Diarrhea Chronic  
diarrhea, which usually lasts longer than 4 weeks, can sometimes be a sign of more serious illness. The main causes of chronic diarrhea are: an inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), microscopic colitis, or some forms of cancer2.

Causes

Diarrhea usually occurs as a result of inflammation of the small intestine, reducing the intestinal ability to absorb fluids and nutrients.

The causes of diarrhea can be:

– An intestinal infection (most common cause) such as gastroenteritis (usually lasts 2 to 3 days). Gastroenteritis is generally not dangerous, except for (small) children due to the risk of dehydration: in this case, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately.
In some countries (such as Africa), diarrhea can be a more serious infection caused by bacteria such as cholera, E. coli, campylobacter, salmonella, shigella, etc. These infections often last for several weeks with a significant loss of water and vital substances (electrolytes).
An infection with Clostridium difficile , a bacteria that normally lives in the gastrointestinal tract, is also possible. When Clostridium difficile grows unchecked, it can cause diarrhea.4.

– stress

– Anxiety

– Taking some medications, such as antibiotics , can cause diarrhea. Antibiotics destroy both the bad and the good bacteria, which can upset the bacterial balance at the intestinal level.
It is also possible that certain excipients (products that surround the drug molecule), such as lactic acid in particular, present in certain generic drugs, could lead to this digestive disorder.

– Psychic problems

– A food allergy or pseudo-allergy

– Chronic inflammation of the intestine, Crohn’s disease (rare), irritable bowel syndrome

– Lactose intolerance

– Hormonal disorders (hyperthyroidism, …)

– An intestinal cancer (colorectal cancer)

– The sudden change of diet. For example, in some resorts, sometimes tourists (for example: Japanese) accuse cooks of serving contaminated food, while only tourists are sick with diarrhea. They, who have a vegetarian or fish-based diet, start to consume sausage meat, which can lead to severe diarrhea without infectious or psychological causes. When traveling abroad, don’t change eating habits too abruptly.

– Certain sweeteners, such as sorbitol or mannitol.

– Certain foods, especially those rich in dietary fiber.

– The consumption of fructose, this sugar as its name implies comes from fruits, it can also be found in processed and industrialized foods. Some people have trouble digesting it.

– A surgery. Patients may suffer from diarrhea after surgery, especially at the abdominal level or when removing bile clots.

– Excessive consumption of caffeine-rich products (e.g. coffee)

– Excessive alcohol consumption

Symptoms

While there are several forms of diarrhea, certain symptoms are usually present, such as:

– frequent, watery stools with significant fluid loss (which can lead to dehydration)

– fever (up to 38°C), high fever is usually a sign of a bacterial infection

– vomiting

– abdominal pain or cramps

Acute diarrhea usually goes away within a few days.

If diarrhea persists for more than 7 days, it is important to see a doctor. Note that in case of occurrence of blood or mucus in the stool, high fever, severe pain, a long duration or diarrhea in infants and young children, consult a doctor.

We speak of chronic diarrhea if it lasts more than 4 weeks.

Complications

Diarrhea that lasts for several days or weeks with severe symptoms, a high fever, or blood in the stool can be signs of diarrhea complications. That is, an underlying disease that leads to these symptoms is also called chronic diarrhea (see Definition above). In this case, it is advisable to consult a doctor quickly.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of diarrhea is usually based on observation of symptoms (clinical signs).

Diagnostic tests, such as gastrointestinal PCR panels, allow identifying the infectious (viral, bacterial) origin of diarrhea, especially during traveler’s diarrhea.

A blood test for anemia and inflammation markers, a stool culture, and an abdominal CT scan are other possible diagnostic methods, depending on the diarrhea. Sometimes a colonoscopy may also be recommended by the medical team.

Treatments

During diarrhea, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids (read in good advice) to prevent water loss. Some medications can help your symptoms get better faster.

There are three main types of medications to treat acute viral diarrhea:

1. Intestinal transit decreasers:

Loperamide-based medicines.

Notes on drugs containing loperamide:

These drugs cannot be taken for a long time (2 days maximum), except in cases of medical recommendation, since they are constipating (the objective) and consequently maintain pathogenic substances that must be eliminated.

The use of drugs containing loperamine is not advisable during diarrhea caused by drug side effects (eg caused by an antibiotic). Please ask an expert for advice.

2. Adsorbent of infectious agents: charcoal

Charcoal-based medicines have the function of adsorbing toxic substances (usually released by bacteria) into the gastrointestinal system, they are necessary in case of gastroenteritis.

3. Antidiarrheals of microbial origin to restore intestinal flora

Based on lactic bacteria, to reconstitute the intestinal flora.

Antibiotics:
In some cases of diarrhea (eg dysenteric diarrhea or diarrhea of ​​bacterial origin in special situations), the doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Other treatments
In some countries, especially the United States, it is common to sometimes use bismuth subsalicylate (trade names: Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate) in cases of diarrhea, but also to treat discomfort of the gastrointestinal tract and nausea. According to the Mayo Clinic , this medication can slow diarrhea, but not necessarily speed recovery.

Herbal medicine

The medicinal plants below have shown some effectiveness in treating diarrhea.

These plants are often rich in tannins (an active ingredient that is highly effective against diarrhea).

They can complement conventional treatment.

– Blueberry berry , to be used in capsule form or blueberry juice.

– Alchemyl , to be used in the form of tea or alchemyl infusion.

– Black tea , to be used as an infusion (leave it in infusion for at least 10 minutes to release all the tannins).

– Gooseberry , to be used in the form of gooseberry juice.

– Blackberry, to be used in the form of blackberry infusion.

– Psyllium seed (psyllium grains), use the seeds to regulate intestinal transit.

natural remedies

–  Blackberry infusion

–  Blueberry infusion

– Blackberry decoction

– Ursiberry decoction

– Milk and cinnamon

– carrot soup

– Bilberry decoction

– Activated charcoal

– alchemyl decoction

– Agrimony infusion

Tips

Food in cases of diarrhea:
– Drink plenty of fluids to compensate for dehydration and eat foods with a liquid consistency (nutritive substances), for example: tea or infusion, broth or soup (eg. carrot soup), fruit juices and Coca-Cola. Cola without gas and in small sips (to remove the gas from Coca-Cola stir with a fork).

Feed yourself, especially during the acute phase of diarrhea, with meals that are easy to digest.

Avoid consuming fatty foods such as cheese, sausages, red meat, chocolate and fiber-rich foods.

Food after acute diarrhea
When diarrhea becomes less frequent, it is possible to eat bananas or apples raw, if possible, mashed. Then gradually start eating rice, potatoes, etc. This feeding should be followed for about 48 hours after the end of the diarrhea or when it becomes less frequent. Once all the symptoms are gone, especially when the stool is solid again, you can start eating normally.
Foods like rice, banana, apple and toast – known in English as BRAT ( bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) – can help with diarrhea due to the low fiber content of these foods. This helps in the formation of less liquid and harder stools. Bananas that are rich in potassium can also replace lost nutrients.

Another good advice for diarrhea:
– Wash your hands regularly with soap, especially in cases of gastroenteritis (highly contagious infection), to avoid transmission to the environment. It is particularly important to avoid contamination with babies and young children.

Traveler’s diarrhea
– When traveling (in case of traveller’s diarrhea), it is important to be careful with the food you eat, if possible, boil all liquids (drinks and food), avoid ice cubes, request bottled drinks, do not eat raw food or rare, don’t brush your teeth with tap water, etc.
It is possible to summarize this rule with the following expression: “Cook it, boil it, peel it, or forget it!” (Take it to the fire, boil it, peel it or forget it!).
In general, traveler’s diarrhea is not a serious illness and resolves within 3 to 7 days. The origin of this form of diarrhea is always an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus or parasite. Infection is often based on contamination of food or water by fecal matter.

– If you are going to a country with a risk of diseases such as cholera and typhoid, get vaccinated against these diseases. Ask your doctor.

– Do not abuse loperamide-based medicines, especially in children (contraindicated for children under 5 years old), ask your doctor or pharmacist.

– Eat yogurt, it can be beneficial to rebuild the intestinal flora. A yogurt is rich in lactic bacteria and helps to rebalance the flora. This is especially recommended when diarrhea is caused by taking antibiotics
Probiotics, in the form of food supplements (eg powder or capsule), have the same effect as yoghurt.
Some specialists, however, consider that this measure is not very effective, since the bacteria are destroyed in the stomach and do not reach the intestine or reach it in small quantities.

– Consume rice water : this remedy slows down intestinal transit and therefore reduces diarrhea.

– Try to fight stress with relaxation methods such as acupuncture or massage. Stress can be a particular cause of chronic diarrhea.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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