When a person passes watery stools three or more times a day, he/she is suffering from diarrhoea. “WHO” has defined diarrhoea as passing more stools in a day than what is normal for a person.
In developing countries, diarrhoea is a common cause of death because illnesses causing diarrhoea are more common there and health care facilities are not adequate or easily accessible. Almost every person, at some point or the other of his/her life, suffers from diarrhoea.
In 2009, 1.5 million children below 5 years and 1.1 million people 5 years and above of age, died of diarrhoea.
Diarrhoea that does not last for more than two days is said to be “acute diarrhoea.” Often most people suffering from acute diarrhoea recover without any medication on their own. If diarrhoea lasts for two weeks or more, it is said to be “chronic diarrhoea” and is dangerous, if timely treatment is not taken and the underlying cause is not detected/diagnosed.
CONSEQUENCES- Due to diarrhoea, a body loses a great amount of fluid that can cause electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. If ignored, diarrhoea can be severe and chronic and for malnourished people, people with impaired immunity and young children, can be fatal.
Causes of infectious diarrhoea-
a) Contaminated food or contaminated water
b) E.coli, salmonella, cholere, shigella, c.diff bacteria
c) Parasites causing giardiasis and amoebiasis
Some causes of diarrhoea that are not infectious-
a) Bowel cancer
b) Problem/inability to digest certain food
c) Tumours that produce substances that cause diarrhoea
d) Toxins (excess alcohol or caffeine, insecticides, arsenic)
f) Certain medications (chemotherapy drugs, certain antibiotics, laxatives, certain antacids that contain magnesium).
Symptoms of diarrhoea-
a) Loose or watery stools
b) Increased urgency and frequency to pass stools
c) Rectal pain
d) Weight loss
e) Loss of appetite
f) Cramping or pain in lower abdomen
g) Mucus or blood in stool
The most important and vital aspect for the treatment of diarrhoea is to avoid dehydration at any cost. Due to fluid loss, there can be a deficiency of sugar, sodium and potassium in the body, so it becomes absolutely necessary for a patient to take drinks that contain sugar, sodium and potassium. A patient can be given “ORS” (oral rehydrated solution), fruit juices that have been diluted, beef or chicken soup. Tiny amounts of liquids at regular intervals of 15-20 minutes are advised to be taken in case a patient suffering from diarrhoea is vomiting too. Children suffering from diarrhoea are advised to take a simple diet consisting of pureed fruit, rice, bananas and toast. Except viral diarrhoea, doctors prescribe certain antibiotics in severe and chronic cases of diarrhoea.
Prevention of infectious diarrhoea-
a) Avoid contaminated food and water
b) Avoid improperly cooked meat and seafood
c) Consume freshly cooked vegetables
d) Take hepatitis A vaccine