What Causes Diarrhea
Diarrhea: What Is It?
Also referred to as” intestinal flu” or “stomach flu”, Diarrhea commonly take places when fluids have a problem being absorbed from the contents of your bowel. It can also occur when increased amounts of fluids are secreted into your bowel, initiating watery poo.
You are probably sick with diarrhea if you pass three loose stools in a day. According to The world health Organization, Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children who are under five years old, killing an average of 760 000 children each year. UNICEF says most of the deaths occasioned by diarrhea take place among children less than two years of age residing in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Diarrhea is habitually triggered by a virus or bacteria and can either be acute (short-term) or chronic (long term). Chronic diarrhea usually lasts more than three weeks. Most people will be affected by diarrhea at some point in their lives. It is commonly accompanied by stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting.
Types Of Diarrhea
1. Acute Diarrhea
Acute diarrhea which is also known as short term diarrhea is usually an infection of the intestines due to gastroenteritis or food poising. The intestinal wall is usually irritated and inflamed which will then hinder the absorption of fluids from stool. In acute cases, the stomach lining may sometimes leak fluids.
Causes Of Acute Diarrhea
- Virus: diarrhea can be caused viruses such as rotavirus or norovirus
- Bacteria: such as Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), campylobacter salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), or shigella. All these cause diarrhea and food poisoning as well.
- Parasites: the Giardia intestinalis parasite causes giardiasis.
- Source: Water tainted with human stool for example, from septic tanks, sewage, and latrines, can cause acute diarrhea. Animal feces also have germs that can cause diarrhea.
- Malnutrition: Children who die from diarrhea repeatedly suffer from underlying malnourishment, which makes them additionally susceptible to diarrhea. Every diarrheal incident makes their malnutrition even worse.
Other Probable Causes Of Acute Diarrhea Include:
- Anxiety or feeling nervous or apprehensive
- Overconsumption of alcohol
- A food allergy
- Impairment of the lining of the intestines as a result of radiotherapy
- Medications, particularly antibiotics: When on antibiotics, many people may suffer diarrhea that may continue even after the antibiotic dose is completed. The cause of the diarrhea is because the antibiotics change the bacterial environment in the intestines.
- Antacid medicines that contain magnesium
- certain chemotherapy medicines
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- statins – medications for lowering cholesterol
- laxatives – medications used to assist in emptying your bowels
- Tropical ailments, such as typhoid and cholera.
2. Chronic Diarrhea
Conditions That Can Lead To Chronic Diarrhea Include:
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a condition that affects the ordinary functions of the intestine that is not well understood
- inflammatory bowel disease – disorders that cause the intestines to be inflamed, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- coeliac disease – a digestive disorder in which you may have developed an allergy to gluten
- bile acid malabsorption – a condition in which bile made by the liver accumulates in the digestive system
- chronic pancreatitis – pancreatic inflammation
- diverticular disease – whereby small swellings or pockets develop in the intestinal lining
- bowel cancer – this may cause diarrhea and blood in your stool
- Medications – Medications for treating hypertension and arthritis.
- Lactose intolerance– the failure to digest the milk sugar lactose
- hormone sicknesses – such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
- Coeliac disease – which decreases the intestine’s capacity to absorb food.
- Persistent diarrhea can also be a result of surgery in the stomach such as a gastrostomy.
3. Traveler’s diarrhea
This type of diarrhea develops during or a short while after a visit abroad. The principal cause is taking food or water that is contaminated by certain micro-organisms or their toxins.
Often, the cause of traveler’s diarrhea may not be found even after tests on stool are carried out. Traveler’s diarrhea regularly affects people who are traveling from a developed country to a developing one where standards of hygiene may not meet those that the individual is accustomed to while at home.
There is different levels of risk depending on where one is visiting.
High-risk areas: Central America, South and Southeast Asia, East Africa West and North Africa, South America,
Medium-risk areas: China, Russia, South Africa Caribbean.
Low-risk areas: Western Europe, Australia North America, and New Zealand.
How to prevent Travelers diarrhea
- Do not use tap water to drink, brush your teeth or use ice cubes made from tap water.
- Do not take unpasteurized milk or dairy products
- Do not consume raw vegetables and fruits unless you can be able to peel them.
- Do not eat rare fish or meat
- If you decide to eat meat or shellfish, ensure that it is piping hot before consuming.
- Do not consume any food that is sold by food vendors
- Drink only hot beverages such as coffee and tea, bottled water and carbonated soft drinks.
Signs & Symptoms of Diarrhea
The signs of diarrhea include:
- abdominal cramps
- abdominal pains
- an urgency to visit to the toilet
- recurrent passing of loose, watery feces
Severe Symptoms Of Diarrhea In Adults
In many cases, severe diarrhea is self-limiting and will resolve within a day or two. However, the following are symptoms of diarrhea that is much more severe, and you need to see your doctor immediately.
- Feaces have blood
- pus in the feces
- pain on the passing of stool
- repeated vomiting
- an incapacity to increase levels of fluid intake
- reduced or lack of urination
- Fever (temperature higher than 38 ºc).
- Noticeable drowsiness owing to dehydration or intoxication.
- Severe diarrhea in babies.
- Severe diarrhea in senior citizens.
- Fast heart rate
- Dry skin
- irritability or confusion
For Diarrhea In Children And Infants, See A Doctor If:
- There is no noticeable improvement in 24 hours;
- They have not urinated in more than 3 hours;
- They have developed a fever that Is above 39 degrees C
- They are passing black or bloody stool;
- They cry, but there are not tears and have dry mouths
- They are unusually sleepy, drowsy, irritable or not responsive
- They have hollow eyes, cheeks or stomach;
- Their skin does not even out when pinched and released.
How to Prevent & Stop Diarrhea
To avoid diarrhea, you must maintain high levels of hygiene at all times. It is recommended that you:
- Wash your hands carefully before preparing food, after visiting the toilet and before eating.
- After every bout of diarrhea, clean the toilet with disinfectants and include the toilet seat and handle.
- Do not share towels, flannels, utensils or cutlery with other people.
- Wash any soiled clothes with boiling water after first removing the poo in the toilet. Do not mix with other clothes.
Many studies have shown that improvements in sanitation and water lead to lower incidences of diarrhea. Such improvements may include the provision of clean piped water, presence of sewer connections and use of water filters.
Being that water is one of the principal ways through which diarrhea is transmitted, provision of clean water and proper sanitation can cut the rate of infections. In fact, it has been projected that we may anticipate an 88% decrease in child deaths consequential from diarrheal sickness as an outcome of better water sanitation and cleanliness.
Rotavirus is a virus that commonly causes diarrhea in children. A vaccine that aids protect children against the rotavirus is now on part of the regular childhood vaccination schedule. This vaccine is administered as drops into a child’s mouth. It is given in two doses; the first given at eight weeks and another at 12weeks.
Zinc supplements decrease the period of diarrhea incidences by 25% and are related to a 30% drop in volumes of stool UNICEF says. Most literature also suggests that vitamin A supplements are beneficial in reducing incidences of the disease.
Breastfeeding has shown to have a dramatic result on the condition on the occurrence of diarrhea, especially in developing nations. The cycle of diarrhea can be broken through feeding with foods rich in nutrients and continuing to breastfeed children solely for the initial six months of their lives as recommended by the World Health Organization.
Practicing strict food hygiene will help avoid getting diarrhea due to food poisoning. You can do this by:
- Frequently washing your hands, utensils surfaces with hot, soapy water
- Never keeping uncooked and cooked foods together
- Ensuring food is properly refrigerated
- Cooking your food thoroughly
- Never consuming food after its use-by date
Due to the loss of essential minerals, salts, and water, you may become dehydrated. Dehydration may be life threatening especially for small children, older people and people whose immunity is already weak due to other illnesses such as cancer or HIV. The acute fluid loss from diarrhea may cause serious complications that may include organ failure, shock, and coma.
Spreading of the infection to additional parts of your body: for example your joints, bones or the meninges of your brain and spinal cord. This is uncommon and If it happened it would be because the diarrhea is caused by a salmonella infection.
What You Can Do At Home To Control Diarrhea
In cases of acute diarrhea, it is recommended that you increase fluid intake especially water that has salt and sugar. This liquid is called ORS [oral rehydration salts] and is beneficial in restoring the electrolyte balance in the body. It can be made at home or be bought from a pharmacy.
Home Remedies For Diarrhea
There are various home therapies that you can use to get rid of diarrhea. Here are some of them.
A lot of people love yogurt, but few know that it is very helpful in combating diarrhea. Yogurt is useful in normalizing the bacteria environment in the stomach and also for introducing healthy bacteria into the belly.
Unflavored yogurt is better when dealing with diarrhea. The taste can be improved by adding fruit such as bananas or strawberries. When your intestinal tract is healthy, it has have more than 400 diverse kinds of bacteria living there. The beneficial micro-organisms that live in your bowel do continuous battle with the germs and dangerous, bacteria that threaten them daily.
Diarrhea commonly ensues when the harmful bacteria begin to overpower the helpful bacteria in your stomach. To help reinstate the healthy bacterial equilibrium in the gut and end diarrhea, you need to replenish your intestinal tract with more useful bacteria. The best way to help friendly intestinal bacteria grow is to add more cultured and fermented foodstuffs to your diet.
Yogurt has been in use for hundreds of years to treat diarrhea. A study carried out at a New York hospital confirmed that between 1/3 and ½ cups of yogurt stopped acute diarrheal cases in infants twice as fast as the drug Neomycin Kaopectate. It works so well that it is frequently used for that purpose in hospitals in Japan, Russia, and Italy.
Also, the type of yogurt that you consume is vital. The label of your yogurt of choice should indicate that it has cultures that are live. Yogurt that is pasteurized is not beneficial as the useful bacteria are killed in the pasteurization process.
Other types of food that have good bacteria in them that are highly beneficial to the digestive tract include:
- cottage cheese,
- Homemade sauerkraut
- Make Use Of The BRAT Diet
BRAT is an acronym for bananas, bread, applesauce and rice. All of these foods are bland, and the applesauce and bananas contain pectin a kind of soluble fiber that soaks up excess fluids in the intestines thus slowing the passage of waste. You can improve the taste of the rice by adding some soup. Do not put any butter on the toast as it will serve to only aggravate the situation further.
- Carrot Soup
Apart from their known use of helping with eyesight, carrots are another source of pectin. Prepare some carrots until tender, then put them in a blender with a little water and puree into a thick consistency. Eat through the day in small helpings.
- Black tea
Drink black tea sweetened with sugar frequently. The water will aid you in staying hydrated, and the tea has astringent tannins that help reduce intestinal irritation and inflammation.
Blackberries are also rich in tannins. You can make blackberry tea by boiling two tablespoons of dried blackberry leaves or blackberries in 1 1/2 cups of water. Boil for around ten minutes then strain and drink. This can be taken several times a day
- Dry Goldenseal
Goldenseal appears to kill a lot of-of the microbes, such as E. coli, that causes diarrhea. The principal constituent in the herb is berberine. Use the capsules every day until the diarrhea gets better.
- Liquid Foods
It may seem strange to eat food that is liquid in nature when having diarrhea but remember that liquid food is a lot easier to digest and the nutrients more easily absorbed. Examples of such food include chicken broth and Jell-O. The soup is especially beneficial as it has numerous nutrients and the salt in it helps restore the electrolyte balance in the body.
- Ginger and honey
- Ginger is a superb substitute for the treatment of diarrhea, stomach pain, and spasms. Ginger has components known to relax and normalize irritated and inflamed bowels that cause diarrhea.
- Grate ginger and mix with some honey. Eat the mixture. It promotes the release of intestinal juices which in turn improves digestion. Do not drink any water after ingesting the mix.
- You can also make ginger tea if eating ginger with honey does not suit you. Take a piece of ginger and chop it into fine pieces. Put the ginger into a saucepan and add some water. Boil, strain and add some honey.
- Chamomile Tea
Chamomile has antispasmodic properties that assist in relaxing and soothing stomach spasms and intestinal inflammation. Steep a teaspoon of chamomile and peppermint in hot boiling water for 15 minutes. Sieve and drink during the day. Green tea is also a wonderful substitute and is great for the digestive system.
Probiotics are excellent for fighting stomach infections as they are packed with numerous beneficial micro-organisms identical to those found in the stomach. You can get probiotics online or at your local health store.
cause. Once the root cause is known, treating it Pectin-rich bananas are excellent for putting a stop to diarrhea. You can take them separately as a snack or with other beneficial food items such as yogurt.
- Use a Heating Pad
One of the reasons for having diarrhea can be because of abdominal cramping. You can get relief by soothing and relaxing the cramped muscles. This can be achieved by placing a heating pad on your abdomen. However, use a layer of cloth to protect yourself from the heat.
Rest may seem obvious, but people do need to be reminded now and then to take some rest so that their bodies can rejuvenate. Lack of enough rest results in a weakened immune system that is susceptible to disease. Take time off from your normal schedule and rest. This will help your body recover faster from the illness.
Diet for Diarrhea
Adjust Your Diet
Eradicate all roughage rich foods such as beans from your diet. Also, eliminate caffeine, spicy food, and alcohol, chocolate as well as caffeinated drinks for at least a week until the diarrhea stops.
Avoid dairy products:
- Dairy products tend to worsen diarrhea. These are butter, milk, and cheese. Although these foods taste good, they should be avoided especially by people with lactose intolerance.
- Limit the amounts of juice taken by young children as they are known to cause diarrhea
- Reduce fatty and sweet foods from your diet during a bout of diarrhea. Sugar is known to exacerbate diarrhea.
Treatment For Diarrhea
Antidiarrheal medications such as loperamide and morphine salts which usually work by slowing the movement of food through the intestinal tract, therefore, allowing more water to be absorbed from the stool.
They can help control acute diarrhea but should not be used when the stool is yellow or green or when there is blood or mucus in the stool. They should also be avoided if diarrhea started after a course of antibiotics and if you also have a fever.
Use Anti-diarrheal medicines, but only on the instruction of your physician. If your diarrhea is caused by an infection, anti-diarrheal drugs might keep the infection in your body for longer.
Rehydration Treatment includes replacing lost fluids and salts to help in averting dehydration. It is imperative for children and weak or aged people with diarrhea.
Persons ill with diarrhea are counseled to take small mouthfuls of rehydration fluids frequently and rest until the symptoms have abated. These products are obtainable from a drugstore.
- Replacement of fluids intravenously in severe cases
- Treatment for any primary disorder, for example, inflammatory bowel disease.
Risk of spreading Diarrhea
Most cases of diarrhea have the potential to infect other people. Viruses are easily spread mostly through vomit, stool from the sick person or through contact with an infected surface or objects.
Sometimes, the virus can be spread by airborne particles that have been generated through diarrhea and vomiting.
Infections can be reduced if persons who are looking after a person sick with diarrhea will wash their hands thoroughly.
Hand wash solutions that are alcohol based have shown to be more efficient in reducing the rate of infection than water and soap. They also do not dry the skin. They are available from pharmacies.
Anybody with severe diarrhea ought to stay at home if possible to lessen the spread of the infection. You are advised not to visit hospitals and nursing homes, and not to go swimming in public pools.
Should you develop soreness, pain, itching or burning in the rectal area due to the frequency of bowel movements, try this tips to help you feel better:
- Take a warm birth and dry the area gently with a clean, soft towel.
- Apply hemorrhoid cream or petroleum jelly.
Diarrhea is an ailment that can make you very sick. With the right management, you should be up and about within no time. The key to recovery is rehydration, and identifying the underlying is as easy as ABC.