Diarrhea or Diarrhoea is a condition that is characterized with having three or more watery stools in a day. Above all, it is marked with dehydration, fatigue & loss of sphincter control.
Diarrhea is not a disease but a condition that is a prominent feature of several diseases, like cholera, dysentery, IBD, lactose intolerance etc.
There are basically three types of diarrhea:
- Short duration watery diarrhea
- Short duration bloody diarrhea
- Persistent diarrhea (lasting for two or more weeks)
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Loose Watery stool
- Blood in the stool
- Mucus in the stool
- Nausea & vomiting
- Weakness & Irritability
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
CAUSES & RISK FACTORS OF DIARRHOEA
There are several causes and diseases that present with diarrhea:
Infection Diarrhoea: Diarrhea caused due to infections by various viruses & parasites:
- Gastroenteritis due to Rota Virus infection
- Norovirus is a common cause of diarrhea in adults
- Adeno virus causes diarrhea & vomiting
- Bacteria like salmonella found in infected or raw meat cause severe diarrhea
- Protozoan infections by amoebas cause diarrhea
- Parasites like Giardia cause a condition called Giardiasis
Disease that present diarrhea: Many disease have a direct relation to diarrhea:
- Irritable bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- IBDs like Crohn’s disease & Ulcerative Colitis
- Lactose intolerance that is the inability to digest milk
- Celiac disease, an allergy to gluten, protein found in wheat
- Malabsorption, that is the inability to absorb or digest certain vitamins, minerals & foods
- Fructose intolerance
Other causes: Various other causes that can lead to diarrhea are:
- Lack of sanitation
- Contaminated food & water
- Living in unhygienic conditions
- Open defecation & lack of a proper toilet system
- Zinc deficiency
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Certain individuals can develop or have allergies against antibiotics like penicillin, that can lead to diarrhea
- Surgeries that disrupt the intestinal functions
COMPLICATIONS IN DIARRHOEA
- Severe Dehydration
- Dangerously low levels of electrolytes
- Low levels of Sodium & chlorine
- Cerebral Encephalopathy
- Altered state of mind
- In infants & children, diarrhea like gastroenteritis can lead to severe damage to the organs & even death
- Blood loss
- Normal physician approach in which the consistency of the stool, duration of condition presented, food & water intake habits, presence of abdominal pain if any, etc is checked.
- Blood test to detect presence of bile pigments or bacterial toxins in blood.
- Stool test to check the presence of parasites and protozoans, or any other toxin.
- Colonoscopy to check for inconsistencies or presence of scars in the intestines, or to check presence of intestinal worms.
- Various tests are conducted to check sensitivity to lactose & gluten.
TREATMENT OF DIARRHOEA
- Medications like bismuth compounds & adsorbants are used, adsorbants are agents that prevent excess loss of water.
- Oral rehydration salts, that contain a formula of sodium chloride & essential electrolyte to account for the loss of electrolytes.
- Anti protozoal & anti parasite drugs like albendazole, mebendazole, etc.
- Drugs that reduce the frequency of diarrhea like loperamide.
- Zinc supplements.
- Probiotics like curd & buttermilk.
PREVENTION & MANAGEMENT
- Establishment of toilet system in poor areas.Boiling the water to kill parasites.
- Eating properly cooked meat & food.
- Avoid food that can cause allergies.
- Eating more fiber
- Washing your hands before & after eating.
- Rota virus vaccine
- Avoid eating foods that are open to exposure.