This is a common problem characterized by frequent, watery stools. It can be accompanied by abdominal pain, nausea and sometimes fever. It usually resolve in a day or two, and most times last less than four weeks, but some more serious cases can persist and be life-threatening.
Prolonged diarrhea can cause dehydration and also an imbalance of crucial electrolytes (minerals circulating in the blood that regulate potassium and sodium levels), which is particularly dangerous for children and the elderly.
Bacteria in contaminated food and water, parasites and viruses can cause diarrhea. Other causes includes food intolerance and certain medications particularly antibiotics and antacids.
Wash produce, refrigerate it, and eat it soon it is bought to keep bacteria from growing. Disinfect surfaces used to prepare meats.
When visiting areas that lack good hygiene, use no tap water or ice, buy no food from street vendors, and eat no raw fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized dairy products, or raw , rare, or room-temperature meat or fish.
Probiotic (bacteria that aid in digestion) supplements may help prevent antibiotic related diarrhea.
Because diarrhea has many causes, a range of tests may be needed, including blood, hormone, and stool analysis, examination of the rectum and colon using a flexible tube called an endoscope (sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) may be done or the upper small intestine may be examined.
Lots of fluids and bland diet cure most cases of diarrhea. For adults, anti-diarrheal medications may help, but avoid products that decrease bowel motility (movement) until a definite diagnosis is established.
FLUIDS: Water is crucial, but contains no electrolytes, so drink salted broth and fruit juices or sport drinks. Give paediatric solutions that contains electrolyte to children.
NUTRITION: Start with the BRAT diet (bananas, rice applesauce, and toast), then gradually add bland foods such as boiled potatoes, crackers, carrots and skinless baked chicken. Avoid milk products for up to a week, because the bowels tends to lose the ability to digest lactose.
MEDICATION: Over-the counter medications may ease symptoms of viral diarrhea but making bacteria related diarrhea worse by trapping diarrhea in the intestines. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics.