Diarrhea | Common Causes and How To Treat It | Gastroenterology


What is diarrhea?

Loose and watery diarrhea and more frequent bowel movements are common problems. Fortunately, It is usually short-lived, lasting no more than a few days. But when this problem lasts for weeks, it usually indicates another problem. If you have had this disease for weeks or more, you may have a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, or a more serious disorder, such as a persistent infection or inflammatory bowel disease.

What is the difference between normal diarrhea and severe diarrhea?

There are actually several different ways of classifying this disease. These include:

  • Acute diarrhea: The most common acute diarrhea is loose, watery diarrhea that lasts one to two days. This type does not require treatment and usually resolves after a few days.
  • Persistent diarrhea: This type of diarrhoea generally lasts for several weeks – two to four weeks
  • Chronic diarrhea: It persists for more than four weeks or that comes and goes regularly for an extended period of time is called chronic diarrhea.

Who can get diarrhea?

Anyone can have this disease. It is not uncommon for many people to have this disease several times a year. It is very common and usually not of great concern to most people.

However, It can be dangerous in certain groups of people, including:

  • Young children.
  • Elderly people (elderly).
  • Those with medical conditions.

For each of these people, It can cause other health problems.

Symptoms of diarrhea

They may include signs and symptoms associated with this disease:

  • Loose, watery stools
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Blood in the stool
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement

What causes diarrhea?

The most common causes of this disease include:

  • Bacteria from contaminated food or water
  • Viruses such as influenza, norovirus, or rotavirus. Rotavirus is the most widely recognized reason for the intense looseness of acute diarrhea in children.
  • Parasites, which are microorganisms found in contaminated food or water
  • Medicines such as antibiotics, cancer medicines, and antacids that contain magnesium
  • Food intolerances and allergies, which are problems digesting certain ingredients or foods. An example of this is lactose intolerance.
  • Diseases affecting the stomach, small intestine, or colon, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Problems with how the colon works, such as irritable bowel syndrome

Some people also develop this disease after stomach surgery, as sometimes surgeries can cause food to move through the digestive system more quickly. Sometimes a cause cannot be found. If it goes away within a few days, finding the cause is usually not necessary.

How is the cause of diarrhea diagnosed?

Your doctor will complete a physical examination and take into account your medical history when determining the cause of your diarrhoea. They may also order lab tests to check urine and blood samples.

Your doctor may order additional tests to determine the cause of your diarrhoea and other related conditions:

  • Fasting tests to determine if a food intolerance or allergy is the cause
  • Imaging tests to check for inflammation and structural abnormalities in the intestine
  • A stool culture to check for bacteria, parasites, or signs of disease
  • Colonoscopy to examine the entire colon for signs of intestinal disease
  • Sigmoidoscopy to examine the rectum and lower colon for signs of intestinal disease

Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy is especially helpful in determining whether you have an intestinal disease if you have acute or chronic diarrhea.

Complications of diarrhea

Potentially dangerous complications of this disease are dehydration (in cases of severe and recurrent this disease) and malabsorption (in cases of chronic diarrhea).

It can likewise demonstrate a wide scope of basic ongoing conditions. Diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further problems.

Diarrhea treatments

Mild cases of acute diarrhea may go away without treatment. For persistent or chronic diarrhea, a doctor will treat any underlying causes in addition to the symptoms of this disease.

The sections below will discuss some of the possible treatment options in more detail.


  • Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to dehydration. For all cases of this disease, rehydration is vital.
  • Individuals can supplant liquids by basically drinking a greater amount of them. However, in severe cases, a person may need intravenous fluids.
  • Oral rehydration solution or salts (ORS) alludes to water that contains salt and glucose. The solution is absorbed by the small intestine to replace the water and electrolytes lost in the stool. In developing countries, oral rehydration salts only cost a few cents.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says that oral rehydration salts can safely and effectively treat more than 90% of cases of mild diarrhea.
  • Zinc supplements may also reduce the severity and duration of this disease in children.

Antidiarrheal medication

  • Over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medications are also available. These include loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol).
  • Imodium is an antiemetic medicine that reduces the passage of stool. It is available to buy without a prescription or online.
  • Pepto-Bismol reduces this disease in adults and children. It can also prevent traveller’s diarrhea. People can buy this product online or without a prescription.
  • There is some concern that anti-diarrheal medications could prolong bacterial infection by reducing the removal of pathogens through the stool.


Antibiotics can only treat this disease which is caused by bacterial infections. If the cause is a specific drug, switching to another drug may help. Always talk to a doctor before switching medications.


The following diet tips may help treat this disease:

  • Sipping clear liquids, such as electrolyte drinks, water, or fruit juice, without adding sugar
  • After each loose stool, replace the lost fluids with at least one cup of liquid
  • Do most of the drinking between meals, not during them
  • Eat foods and fluids that are high in potassium, such as diluted fruit juices, peeled potatoes, and bananas.
  • Eat high-sodium foods and liquids, such as broths, soups, sports drinks, and crackers
  • Eat foods rich in soluble fibre, such as bananas, oatmeal, and rice, as this helps thicken stools.
  • Limiting foods that may make this disease worse, such as fatty and fried foods, high-sugar dairy products, and sugary foods

Include foods and drinks that may make this disease worse:

  • Sugar-Free Gum, Mint, Sweet Cherry, And Peaches
  • Drinks and medicines containing caffeine
  • Fructose is found in large quantities from fruit juices, grapes, honey, dates, nuts, figs, soft drinks, and prunes.
  • Lactose in dairy products
  • magnesium
  • Olean fat substitute
  • Anything that contains artificial sweeteners


  • There is conflicting evidence for the role of probiotics in this disease. They may help prevent traveller’s diarrhea, and in children, there is evidence to suggest that it may reduce the illness by one day.
  • People should seek advice from a doctor, as there are many strains. Researchers have studied most probiotics based on Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Saccharomyces boulardii for antibiotic-related diarrhea.
  • The research in The Lancet found no evidence to suggest that the multi-strain bacterial preparation was effective in preventing Clostridium difficile or antibiotic-associated diarrhea. They call for a better understanding of the development of antibiotic-related diarrhea.
  • Probiotics come in containers, tablets, powders, and fluids, and they are accessible on the web.

Risk factors of diarrhea

Exposure to infectious agents is the main risk factor for acute diarrhea. Bacteria and viruses are often transmitted through oral stools, so hand washing and hygiene are important to prevent infection. Soap and water are better because hand sanitisers that contain alcohol may not kill viruses. Medicines such as antibiotics and medicines containing magnesium products are also common causes. Recent dietary changes can also lead to severe diarrhea.

This includes consuming coffee, tea, colas, nutritional foods, and gum or mint foods that contain poorly absorbed sugars. Acute bloody diarrhea indicates a bacterial cause such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, or Shiga-e-coli toxin. Traveller’s diarrhea is common in those who travel to developing countries and results from exposure to the more common bacterial pathogens of enteric Escherichia coli. The best prevention is to avoid eating and drinking contaminated or raw food and drinks.


Although some types of this disease, such as those caused by other medical conditions, are inevitable, contagious diarrhea can be prevented.

The most important way to avoid this disease is to avoid contact with the infectious agents that can cause it. This implies great handwashing and cleanliness are significant.

Also, if you are travelling to developing countries, you should take the following precautions:

  • Drink only bottled water, even when brushing your teeth.
  • Avoid eating food from street vendors.
  • Avoid tap water.
  • Eat only those fruits or vegetables that are cooked or peeled.
  • Make sure all the foods you eat are well cooked and served hot and steamed.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or seafood.
  • Get hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines before travelling, if this is specific to that area.

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