All About Diarrhoea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Diarrhoea?

It is a condition during which a person passes loose or watery stool. Generally, it may occur twice to thrice in a year and is considered normal, however, people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are more susceptible to develop diarrhoea more often.

Over use of drug causes Diarrhoea-Photo by Myriam Zilles from Pexels

Causes 

It is primarily caused by stomach flu. During stomach flu, virus in our guts attack our gastrointestinal system. There are several other factors that cause diarrhoea, some of which have been listed under:

  1.  Allergy with certain types of foods, for example lactose or galactose intolerance are pretty common.
  2.  Alcohol abuse
  3.  Disease of the intestine (Crohn’s disease)
  4.  Excessive use of laxative
  5. Food poisoning
  6. Improper digestion of foods
  7.  Reaction to medicines, like some antibiotics
  8. Diabetes
  9.  Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  10.  Cancer (Colon Cancer)
  11. Constipation might also lead to diarrhoea later
  12.  Using of excess sugar free (sorbitol and mannitol)

Symptoms

Fever is a common symptom of Diarrhoea-Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

One or more of the following symptoms might be experienced while suffering from it:

  1. Abdominal cramp
  2. Loose or watery stool
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Fever
  5. Blood in stool
  6. Bloating
  7. Nausea
  8. Urgent need to have bowel movements
  9. Mucus in stool.

Complications

It may lead to dehydration that can do severe damage to the body. The loss of water at times can be fatal as well. In addition, some other complications can be seen:

  1. Excessive thirst
  2. Dry mouth
  3. Little or no urination
  4. Weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
  5. Fatigue
  6. Dark coloured urine
  7. Drowsiness

Dietary Management of Diarrhoea

Carbohydrate:

Rice based products are more beneficial during diarrhoea. You should also try to avoid wheat-based products, because they might cause inflammation or indigestion. You can eat soft rice, puffed rice, flake rice and some soft vegetables.

Fiber:

You must include dietary fibre in your diet. The fibre should be water-soluble, soft and easily digestible. You can include the following fibre rich foods in your diet- oats, barley, potato, and vegetables from the gourd family.

Potassium:

Potassium is very important mineral, especially for people having loose motion. During diarrhoea the body often loses potassium. Hence, it is important that we replenish potassium in our body. Some of the potassium rich foods include banana, potato, and tender coconut water.

Protein:

You should include easily digestible proteins like thin dal and light fish stew. However, you should avoid proteins from sources like red meat, egg, rajma, and chickpeas.

Fat:

You can take healthy fats in the form of cooking oil. However, you must avoid rich fatty foods and foods with trans fat from your diet.

Sodium:

It causes sodium loss in our bodies. Therefore, you must take care of getting enough sodium through liquids like ORS and unsweetened lemonade. It is very important that we take care of maintaining sufficient sodium balance in our body.

Water:

Drinking sufficient water (8-10 glasses) is extremely important for recovering from diarrhoea. You can also drink water through ORS and other Sherbet.

Triggering Foods

While there can be several other causes that may lead to diarrhoea as has been mentioned before, sometimes it might be triggered by foods. Fried foods, foods rich with sauce/gravy, citrus fruit, artificial sweetener, excessive fibre-rich foods, fatty foods, fructose, peppermint, beans, chickpeas, Bengal gram chana, raw vegetables, and coffee are some of the foods that might trigger diarrhoea.

Treatment

Water is key to manage Diarrhoea-Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Although diarrhoea isn’t uncommon, neglecting it can be extremely dangerous. The following treatments might be undertaken:

ORS:

The first line of treatment is to drink Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) in order to mitigate the water imbalance caused by excessive water loss during diarrhoea. ORS contains both salt and glucose that can be easily absorbed by the intestine. During diarrhoea we need to make sure that the patient is fed ORS several times. According to WHO, 90% of diarrhoea can be treated with ORS.

Soft bland diet:

Sometimes people avoid eating while suffering from loose motion which can be further detrimental to health. So, in addition to drinking sufficient water, one needs to take foods rich in potassium, like banana, boiled potato, and soft rice.

Medication:

Medication should be taken as per doctor’s advice

Probiotics:

Probiotics have enormous benefits for people with diarrhoea and should be taken as per doctor’s suggestions.

It can happen for various reasons and therefore it is very important to diagnose the underlying cause. Once ascertained, proper diet and lifestyle modification can play a very important role in providing long term cure from diarrhoea.

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