Diarrhea is a loose and frequent stool that significantly reduces the quality of life and can be the cause of serious health problems. The condition is often accompanied by pain and abdominal rumbling, bloating and a false urge to defecate (rectal tenesmus).
It’s important to admit that diarrhea is not a separate disease, it can be caused by different reasons, including dysbacteriosis, neurogenic disorders, and many infectious or inflammatory processes in the digestive organs. Usually, the symptoms of diarrhea pass within a day or two, otherwise a consultation with a specialist is needed.
The severity of diarrhea can range from a slight, temporary loosening of the stool to a life-threatening condition. Timely diagnosis and drug use are needed to prevent any complications. See your doctor as soon as possible or, depending on the severity of your symptoms, go to the emergency room in the following cases:
- You not only have loose stools, but also bloody stool, the color of your feces is black (this is the symptom of clotted blood).
- Along with diarrhea, you have a serious fever.
- You have severe nausea or vomiting that prevents you from drinking to replace lost fluids.
- You feel severe pain in the abdomen or around the anus.
- Diarrhea appeared after you returned from abroad.
- Your urine has changed color to a dark brown.
- Your heart rate has increased.
- Diarrhea is accompanied by severe headache, irritability, and loss of consciousness.
These symptoms indicate either an acute inflammatory process associated with an infection, or a severe degree of dehydration. Both situations are equally dangerous, even fatal. Therefore, do not rely on home remedies and do not delay contacting a doctor.
What are the reasons for diarrhea?
Diarrhea is usually called the “disease of dirty hands”. This means that different types of bacteria can live on human hands, and if you neglect the hygiene rules, you are at risk. But that’s not the only reason. Here are the most common causes of diarrhea.
- Viral infections affecting the digestive organs. These infections are very contagious and are easily spread. Diarrhea can be caused by stomach flu, coronavirus, or adenovirus infections.
- Bacterial infections affecting the digestive organs. The most wide-spread bacteria are Salmonella and Shigella. Parasitic invasion often causes the loose stool. Visiting foreign countries with low standards of living or tasting exotic, raw or undercooked dishes are the most common reasons if bacterial diarrhea.
- One more common reason is the intake of certain medications. Very often diarrhea in adults or children is caused by antibiotics such as ampicillin, lincomycin, cephalosporins, and clindamycin. They deplete the normal intestinal microflora, which causes the natural digestion of food and the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Laxatives, antacids containing magnesium salts, antiarrhythmic drugs, digitalis-based drugs, potassium salts, artificial sugars, cholestyramine, chenodeoxycholic acid, and anticoagulants also stimulate stool thinning.
- Intolerance to certain foods. Problems with the digestion of several types of sugars, artificial sweeteners, flavors, and polyhydric alcohols also cause diarrheal disorders. The most common food allergy, manifested by loose stools, occurs with fructose or lactose intolerance, drinking large amounts of alcoholic beverages, and eating high-calorie, fatty, and spicy foods rich in magnesium. Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products. Fructose is the same, but comes from fruits or honey. Despite the natural origin of these simple carbohydrates the human body does not have enough enzymes to digest them. Hence the digestive problems, including diarrhea, occur.
- By the way, the number of enzymes that help digest lactose decreases with age. Therefore, intolerance to milk sugars is often manifested in older people.
- Digestive disorders and tumor growth in the digestive organs, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, malabsorption syndrome, or irritable bowel syndrome are possible reasons for diarrhea.
- Alcohol abuse. A large amount of alcohol can damage the intestinal mucosa and disrupt the composition of its microflora.
- Hormonal disorders. Diarrhea is a common occurrence in people with diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism. Also, this disease can have a neurological origin, and is usually the result of severe stress.
- For some people, this hobby also provokes diarrhea. It’s called runner’s diarrhea.
- Operative treatment, in particular, resection of the stomach, (cholecystectomy). Diarrhea is also a common symptom during a pregnancy. At this time, the number of hormones and biologically active additives increases, which can enhance not only intestinal motility, but also increase the sensitivity of the nervous apparatus of the mucous membrane to some products.
What to do with diarrhea and how to stop it?
Depending on the type of diarrhea, the following medications can be used:
- the use of a solution of oral rehydration salts, that replenishes the deficiency of water and minerals (Pedialyte, Enterogermina);
- zinc preparations;
- If a bacterial intestinal infection is confirmed, the use of antibiotics and prebiotics such as Imodium, Renew Life, Amoxicillin, and Ciprofloxacin might be considered. For a comprehensive look at the pricing, available options, and further details of these medications, you can visit a Canadian pharmacy, but it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before using any of these treatments to ensure they are appropriate for your specific situation.
- diarrhea remedies that reduce intestinal motility;
- vitamins and minerals.
Treatment of diarrhea during pregnancy is carried out under the supervision of an obstetrician-gynecologist, since many drugs are prohibited for use in this group of patients.
In most cases, diarrhea does not need to be treated because it resolves quickly on its own. To speed up this process, you need to drink more water and avoid caffeine and alcohol. The special diet is recommended during diarrhea. Include low-fiber foods in your diet: boiled eggs, boiled rice, or chicken, white bread toast or crackers. Give up fatty foods, foods high in fiber (raw fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread), and spices for a while. Steamed, boiled, or baked dishes are preferred. It is desirable to use food in a well-mashed, chopped form.
Consider taking probiotics, substances that help restore normal gut microflora. It is best to choose the necessary drug with a therapist. The treatment depends on the specific disease, and only a doctor can recommend it.
Diarrhea that lasts longer than two days is a clear indication that you should see a therapist. Probably, diarrhea is caused by some serious internal failure in the body. You may need to take blood, urine, and stool tests. Depending on the results of the examination and tests, the doctor will make a diagnosis and prescribe an effective treatment.