About Diarrhoea

Loose, watery stool? 3 times a day? It May be Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea  can best be described as a condition where a person has at least three loose or liquid bowel movements in a single day. It usually lasts for a few days and many a times results in dehydration due to loss of fluids. This condition may further lead to increased urination, loss of skin color, a fast heart rate, and a decrease in responsiveness as it becomes more severe. Loose but non watery stools in babies who are breastfed, are usually considered normal and may sometimes not be a cause of worry.


It could be a Virus, Bacteria or Parasite

A virus, bacteria, or parasite are the most common cause of an infection of the intestines which lead to a condition known as gastroenteritis and in turn cause watery stools. These infections are mostly acquired from food or water that has been contaminated by stool, or directly from another person who is already infected by Diarrhoea. The condition may be divided into three types: short duration watery diarrhoea, short duration bloody diarrhoea, and if it lasts for more than two weeks, persistent diarrhoea. The short duration watery diarrhoea may be due to an infection by cholera. If blood is also existent with the stool, it is also known as dysentery. Diarrhoea, can also be caused by many non-infectious causes    including hyperthyroidism, lactose intolerance, inflammatory bowel disease, a number of medications, and irritable bowel syndrome. Stool cultures are not required in most cases to confirm the exact cause.


How can I prevent it? How can I cure it?

Improved sanitation, clean drinking water, and hand washing with soap can go a long way in preventing infectious Diarrhoea. Breastfeeding for at least six months is also recommended and so is vaccination against rotavirus. Oral rehydration solution (ORS), which simply put, is clean water with modest amounts of salts and sugar, is the most common and easily available treatment. Zinc tablets are also recommended. These treatments have been estimated to have saved 50 million children in the past 25 years. It is recommended that people suffering from Diarrhoea continue to eat healthy food and babies with Diarrhoea continue to be breastfeed. In a case of paucity of commercial ORS, homemade solutions may be used. Sometimes in cases of severe dehydration due to Diarrhoea, intravenous fluids may be required. As is seen though, most cases however, can be managed well with fluids by mouth. Antibiotics, while rarely used, may be recommended in a few cases such as those who have bloody diarrhea and a high fever, those with severe diarrhea following travelling, and those who grow specific bacteria or parasites in their stool. Loperamide may help decrease the number of bowel movement but is not recommended in those with severe disease.