Diarrhea is the passage of watery, soft and loose stool frequently. It can either be with or without pressure, abdominal cramping or pressure. It comes suddenly and the best thing is to let it run its cause. It is one of the most common illnesses and it affects people from all ages and groups. It is ranked second after common cold and there are instances when it might be linked to other complications thus posing a more serious illness. In this case, the fluids get out of the body before they are absorbed into the intestines.
When this happens, it is advisable for the patients to drink lots of water in order to compensate for what they are losing. When this is not done, it poses dehydration and death can occur as a result of diarrhea when dehydration is noted.
Causes of Diarrhea
There are different factors known to cause diarrhea and these can be broken down as follows.
Viral infections are the major cause of diarrhea and it is associated with mild or moderate symptoms. When this is identified as the major cause of the episode, it can last for three to seven days. Viral infections that cause diarrhea can best be broken down as following.
- Rotavirus which is common among infants.
- Norovirus which is common among school age children and adults.
- Adenovirus which affects people from all age groups.
This is known to cause more serious cases of diarrhea and often, it is as a result of contaminated food or drink. It is often referred to as food poisoning and it is also accompanied by severe symptoms. Some of the major caused in this case would be the following.
- It might be as a result of local disease outbreak. When members of a family eat food that is contaminated, they might also suffer from a bout of diarrhea.
- Traveling to foreign countries is also another major cause of diarrhea.
- Organisms such as salmonellae, campylobacter and shigella are also known to cause more serious cases of diarrhea.
- Antibiotics use can also trigger Clostridium difficile bacteria and this triggers cases of diarrhea.
There are other factors that might also trigger diarrhea and these include the following.
- Parasites like Giardia Iambila, Cryptosporiudium and Entamoeba histolytica are also known to cause diarrhea.
- Intestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, microscopic colitis and diverticulitis are also known to be major causes of diarrhea.
- Reaction to medication such as cancer drugs, medications for blood pressure and antibiotics.
- Intolerance to foods like lactose and artificial sweeteners.
Symptoms of Diarrhea
The following are some of the symptoms that used to identify a bout of diarrhea and hence, ensure that the condition is addressed without any cause for delay.
- Abdominal cramps: This might accompany diarrhea in some cases and it can either be moderate or severe. However, in most cases, when the cramps are severe, this might be an indication of another underlying problem and it is recommended you seek professional help.
- Fever: This is not a common symptom and as such, is an indication of a deep problem necessitating medical help.
- Dehydration: This is a serious symptom and one that indicates a potentially serious problem.
- Watery or liquid stool which might vary in color. If it is red, this is an indication there is intestinal bleeding and is an indication of a potentially serious problem.
- Adults also get extremely thirsty and also have dry mouth
- In older people, the skin tends to appear loose and they also become sleepy and confused because of the dehydration.
- In infants, cases of dehydration are seen through sunken eyes and dry mouths. They also tend to urinate less than usual and they might refuse to eat or drink anything.
Diarrhea Home Remedies
In order to deal with diarrhea effectively, it is advisable to use some home remedies. In this case, you should consider the possibility of trying out the following remedies which have been tried and tested. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Hydrate– You should stay hydrated. When you have a bout of diarrhea, you not only lose liquids but also minerals like sodium or potassium and electrolytes. These are essential for running your body and you need to drink liquids in plenty in order to replace these. In a day, you should drink at least 12 cups of water. You can also drink fruit juices apart from prune and apple which have laxatives and weak tea that has as little sugar as possible. Whatever you choose to drink, make sure that it is cool and not irritating. You should sip this and not guzzle as this makes it easier for the insides.
- Yogurt– You should drink yogurt that has live cultures. These are friendly bacteria and they can line up your intestines and as such, provide the needed protection that is needed to ensure you get over the diarrhea episode. It also helps with the production of lactic acid and this kills nasty bacteria and leaves you feeling better at a quicker pace.
- Rest– You should also take some time off to rest and especially, if you are not overly young or are old. Bear in mind that diarrhea is a natural way for your body to get rid of any unwanted substances in your body. For this reason, it is advisable to give it rest. Sip broth while in bed and if it is not salty add a pinch of salt to it. Using heating pad on the belly also helps with the relief of abdominal cramps.
- Avoid Dairy Products– There are certain foods you need to avoid in order to ensure you get better quickly. You should avoid cheese, milk and dairy products apart from yogurt. This should be for 1 to 3 weeks after the diarrhea stops. This is because the small intestine is where the milk goes and since it will be affected by diarrhea, you need to stay off milk. Caffeine should also be avoided because it is known to jumpstart the nervous system and high sugar levels are also known to increase diarrhea. Fruits that are high in sugars should also be avoided.
- Chamomile Tea– You should drink chamomile tea which is considerably good for treating inflammation of the intestines. It is also known to have antispasmodic properties and drinking three cups a day comes in handy as a remedy for diarrhea.
- Oregon grape – The grape (its roots) contain an antimicrobial – berberine- that is quiet effective when it comes to tackling harmful food borne bacteria.
- Mullein – This has the effect of reducing the inflammation of the digestive tract, and by so doing allows for the proper formation of stool.
- Pysllium seeds and husks – In large quantities they provide bulk in the digestive tract. These slow down the passage of liquid through the large intestines and in this way regulate the flow of stool.
- Red raspberry leaves – These are regarded as having astringent qualities and the import of this is that they cause the colon to contract, and this has the effect of slowing down the movement of fecal matter. The herbs also bind toxins and by so doing aide in arresting the situation.
- Root tea Mashmallow, Chamomile, slippery elm or quercetin: The mentioned herbs will sooth your irritated bowel. They should be dissolved in some water then simmered and reduced to syrup.
- Barberry or goldenseal: They are botanicals which are known to contain berberine to treat infectious diarrhea. But women who are either pregnant or nursing are advices not to take it.
- Chamomile: It comes in handy when one would like to get relieved from diarrhea. It also reduces intestinal cramping.
- Bilberry: The astringent properties found in bilberry come in handy when looking for a diarrhea remedy thus make it useful. The Germans have been known to traditionally use this in the diarrhea remedying. When using this kind of berry or any other, you are bets advised to use dried berries as those that are not dried could worsen the diarrhea.
- Leaves of red raspberries: They are known to remedy chronic diarrhea. Their high tannins content is the one that aids in the ceasing of diarrhea.
Diet for Diarrhea
After experiencing a diarrhea episode, the following dietary tips come in handy and when adhered to, they can make a major difference.
- For the first 24 hours after a diarrhea episode, you should eat foods that are easy to digest and blended.
- Progress to other types of foods in accordance to your toleration level.
- If there are foods or drinks that trigger discomfort, you should avoid them. The same case applies to foods that trigger cramping or gas. Some of these foods include cola drinks, fried foods, chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods, greasy foods and acidic juices.
- It is advisable to eat small meals and spread them through the day. This is important for the simple reason it reduced acidity level.
- Chew food well and make sure that you eat slowly.
- A progressive diet is advisable and in this case, you can start by drinking liquids that are at room temperature like weak tea, and sports drinks then you can move to bland foods but in small amounts the second day. On the third day, you should increase the variety of foods eaten and space the meals throughout the day. For instance you can include scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, fish or chicken without skin.
The main purpose of a diarrhea diet is to aid with treatment and also correct the cause. It also helps with the replenishing of lost electrolytes and preventing dehydration.
Prevention of Diarrhea
While there are some types of diarrhea which are unavoidable like those caused as a result of other medical complications, there are others that can be avoided easily. The best way to prevent diarrhea is to ensure you stay away from agents that are known to cause it. Some of the things you need to bear in mind include adhering to high hygiene standard and excellent hand washing. The following preventive measures also come in handy.
- You should not eat foods from street vendors.
- You should drink bottles water when on the road and this also goes for brushing your teeth.
- You should not eat ice that is made using tap water.
- Eat vegetables or fruits that need to be peeled or cooked.
- Do not eat foods that are not thoroughly cooked. Also, make sure that the food you eat is served while it is steaming hot.
- You should not eat any seafood that is raw or meat that is undercooked.
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