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Diarrhea

Definition


Disease: Diarrhea Diarrhea
Category: Digestive diseases

Disease Definition:

Acute diarrhea is a common condition that everyone at some time has gone through. The loose, watery stools and abdominal cramps that characterize diarrhea often linger for a couple of days. Diarrhea usually indicates going to the toilet more often than usual in addition to a greater volume of stool. Chronic diarrhea lingers much longer than acute diarrhea, generally longer than four weeks. Chronic diarrhea could be a sign of inflammatory bowel disease, which is a serious disorder, or it could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome, which is a less serious condition. Diarrhea might result in a loss of serious quantities of water and salts. Treatment is usually not needed for diarrhea, since it fades away on its own. But in case dehydration or blood in the stool is passed or diarrhea remains, a doctor should be consulted.
 

Work Group:


Symptoms, Causes

Symptoms:

Diarrhea might be accompanied with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Bloating
  • Frequent, loose, watery stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Blood in the stool

 

In case diarrhea is caused by an infection, it may be preceded by nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea caused by an infection may be accompanied by fever and may sometimes cause bloody stools. In case the patient is an adult, a doctor should be consulted when:

 

  • Experiencing severe rectal or abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea persists for more than three days
  • Experiencing a temperature more than 39 C (102 F), or signs of dehydration despite drinking plenty of fluids
  • Becoming dehydrated, as evidenced by excessive thirst, dry mouth or skin, little or no urination, dizziness, lightheadedness, dark colored urine or severe weakness.
  • Having bloody or black stools

 

In children, Diarrhea could immediately contribute to dehydration, especially in young children. A doctor should be called in case the child’s diarrhea doesn’t get better within 24 hours or the baby:

 

  • Has a dry mouth or cries without tears
  • Has skin that doesn’t flatten when pinched and released
  • Has bloody or black stools
  • Has a fever of more than 39 C (102 F)
  • Is extraordinarily sleepy, drowsy, unresponsive or irritable
  • Has a sunken look to the abdomen, cheeks or eyes
  • Hasn’t had a wet diaper in three or more hours
     

Causes:

The food eaten under normal conditions stays in liquid form throughout most of the digestive process. If the unabsorbed food residue passes through the colon, most of the liquids are absorbed and what stays is a semisolid stool. The ingested food and liquid in diarrhea pass too quickly or in too large amounts, or both through the colon. The liquids aren’t absorbed enough and the outcome is a watery bowel movement. The lining of the colon might additionally be inflamed or diseased, making it less able to absorb liquids. The followings are the most common reasons behind the occurrence of diarrhea:

 

Viruses:

Viral diarrhea spreads easily. Common viruses resulting in diarrhea are Norwalk virus, viral hepatitis, cytomegalovirus and the herpes simplex virus. Rotavirus is the most typical source behind acute childhood diarrhea.

 

Bacteria and parasites:

Bacteria and parasites could be transmitted to the body through contaminated food or water. Parasites, like Girardia lamblia and cryptosporidium could result in diarrhea. Campylobacter, shigella, salmonella and Escherichia coli are among the common bacterial sources of diarrhea. When traveling in developing countries, traveler’s diarrhea is a common condition caused by bacteria and parasites.

 

Medications:

Diarrhea could result from several medications, especially from antibiotics that destroy both good and bad bacteria disturbing the natural balance of bacteria in the intestines. This disturbance could occasionally contribute to an infection with bacteria known as Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) that could also result in diarrhea.

 

Other causes

 

Lactose:

In some people, lactose, which is a sugar found in milk and milk products, is a common cause of diarrhea.

 

Fructose:

This is a sugar that is found in several fruits; it is a typical source of diarrhea, particularly in children.

 

Artificial sweeteners:

In some otherwise healthy people, artificial sweeteners found in chewing gums and other sugar-free products could result in diarrhea.

 

Surgery:

Certain people go through diarrhea after undergoing abdominal surgery or surgery to remove the gallbladder.

 

Other digestive disorders:

Chronic diarrhea has several other reasons, including Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
 

Complications

Complications:

None

Treatments:

Diarrhea usually disappears without treatment within a couple of days.

 

MEDICATIONS:

In case the reason behind diarrhea is a parasitic infection, antibiotics might be prescribed to relieve symptoms. Occasionally, but not always, antibiotics might relieve signs and symptoms of bacterial diarrhea. Yet, viral diarrhea won’t be relieved with antibiotic use.

 

THERAPIES:

 

Replacing fluids:

Replacing the liquids and salts lost during diarrhea might be recommended as treatment, for the body requires adequate levels of salts and electrolytes, which are minerals like sodium and potassium, to be able to keep the electric currents in place that keep the heart beating. An electrolyte imbalance might be created due to disruption of the body’s liquid and mineral levels; this imbalance could be serious if liquids aren’t replaced and restored through drinking an electrolyte mixture.

 

Adjusting medications:

In case antibiotic medication results in diarrhea, stopping that medication and modifying the treatment plan could be helpful.

 

Treating underlying conditions:

In the case of experiencing chronic diarrhea, treating the underlying disease might be beneficial in relieving the diarrhea.
 

Prognosis:

Not available

Expert's opinion

Expert's Name:
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Expert's opinion:

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