Diarrhea is a condition characterized by watery stools that occur urgently and frequently than usual. Diarrhea is usually a symptom of an infection in the intestinal tract. It is often accompanied by stomach pain, cramps, gas, nausea, bloating, and fatigue.
Usually, this condition can last only a few days (acute) but in some cases extends for weeks (chronic). Moreover, our digestive system is sensitive to dietary and lifestyle changes that can lead to diarrhea.
Diarrhea is influenced by many factors that can also make this condition lasting for a short or long time. The following are the common causes:
- Gastrointestinal (GI) tract infection. This can be caused by bacteria, viruses (rotavirus and norovirus), and parasitic organisms (Giardia intestinalis). The acute diarrhea is frequently due to by E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter.
- Digestive disorders. The most common causes of chronic diarrhea are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, and diverticular disease.
- Certain foods. For example, a person with lactose intolerance cannot digest the sugar in the milk and other foods like gluten, wheat, and spicy or fatty foods.
- Medications. Antibiotics can disturb the natural balance of bacteria in your gut.
- Stress. According to Dr. Francisco Marrero, a gastroenterologist with the Digestive Disease Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, there is a direct link between the brain and gut. This is why you can suffer from diarrhea during stressful situations.
You can also have diarrhea because of uncommon reasons, such as:
- Intense exercise. After intense exercises, the blood supply is diverted from the digestive tract to your muscles that can cause abnormal cramping and loose stools.
- Alcohol. Beer or liquor has a high amount of carbohydrates causing gas, bloating, and liquid bowel movements.
The symptoms are actually various. But some of the common symptoms are:
- No appetite
- A headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in your abdomen
- Bloody stools
- Abdominal cramps
- Lightheadedness or dizziness due to dehydration
If left untreated, diarrhea can lead to dehydration, a dangerous condition where your water levels are not enough for normal body function. Dehydration should not be taken lightly because it can result in death. You can cure dehydration by drinking plenty of clear fluids such as pure water and bone broths. Be warned, dehydration can become serious especially in children.
Increase Fluid Consumption
Replacing fluid and electrolyte or ion losses is one of the important keys in the treatment. This is necessary to avoid or handle dehydration.
Using ORT (Oral Rehydration Therapy)
For those susceptible to dehydration, doctors usually recommend the use of ORS. The fluid consists of a mixture of water with sugar and salt to replace carbohydrates, electrolytes or ions, and other essential minerals lost in the body to avoid dehydration. It can also be purchased at pharmacies without a prescription.
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There are several types of antidiarrheal drugs to reduce the symptoms and shorten the duration of diarrhea by one day. The most used antidiarrheal drug is loperamide. Loperamide is able to make your stool denser and reduce the frequency of your bowel movements.
There are natural treatments for diarrhea but the primary focus is fluid and electrolyte replacement to avoid potentially life-threatening complications from severe dehydration.
- Coconut Water. This is a natural replacement for sports drinks that help replenish lost fluids and electrolytes to address dehydration.
- Probiotic Foods. The good bacteria in probiotic foods can help your body fight off the germs that cause diarrhea.
- Turmeric. Turmeric is known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties for a remedy of infectious or inflammatory diarrhea.
- Zinc Supplement. It can help in improving the absorption of water and electrolytes, aiding the intestinal wall to regenerate itself, and helping your immune system fight infectious microbes.