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Diarrhea Symptoms and Treatment

Diarrhea Symptoms and Treatment
Diarrhea Symptoms and Treatment

Diarrhea means the frequent passage of loose, watery stools. This occurs in many different conditions of the digestive tract. Diarrhea is not actually a disease in itself, but it is seen in such conditions as regional enteritis, sprue, ulcerative colitis, various infections of the bowel, and also most forms of gastroenteritis.

One common cause is the irritable colon. Diarrhea is often seen in people who take excessive amounts of laxatives. Others have diarrhea because they are  allergic to certain substances. It is always important to run down the cause and eliminate it if all possible.

What Causes Diarrhea?

Diarrhea may be caused by a temporary problem, like an infection, or a chronic problem, like an intestinal disease. A few of the more common causes of diarrhea are

  • Bacterial infections. Several types of bacteria, consumed through contaminated food or water, can cause diarrhea. Common culprits include Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia coli.
  • Viral infections. Many viruses cause diarrhea, including rotavirus, Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, and viral hepatitis.
  • Food in tolerances. Some people are unable to digest a component of food, such as lactose, the sugar found in milk.
  • Parasites. Parasites can enter the body through food or water and settle in the digestive system. Parasites that cause diarrhea include Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, and Cryptosporidium.
  • Reaction to medicines, such as antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and antacids containing magnesium.
  • Intestinal diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease.
  • Functional bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, in which the intestines do not work normally.

Diarrhea Treatment:

Certain foods have a strong laxative effects on the bowel. One should eliminate these until the loose stools are brought under control.

A teaspoonful of paregoric taken every two hours until the loose stools cease will also be beneficial. Kaopectate and similar  medicines are useful for milder attacks of  diarrhea. But all prolonged or severe cases should be referred to a physician, especially if the stools contain mucus or blood.

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