Diarrhea is defined by unusually watery or loose feces. The majority of diarrheal cases are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Chronic diarrhea can also be caused by digestive system diseases.
The duration of diarrheal symptoms may indicate the underlying etiology. Acute diarrhea might last between two and two weeks. Persistent diarrhea typically lasts between two and four weeks.
Chronic diarrhea lasts for a longer period of time than acute or persistent diarrhea, typically greater than four weeks. Chronic diarrhea may be a sign of a serious ailment, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or of a less serious condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
If a person passes stools often yet they are normal in consistency, this is not diarrhea. Likewise, breastfed infants frequently pass loose, sticky feces. This is entirely typical. Although the majority of instances of diarrhea are self-limited (lasting a specific amount of time and maintaining a constant level of severity), diarrhea can occasionally result in serious problems.
Diarrhea can result in dehydration (when the body loses a substantial quantity of water), electrolyte imbalance (when essential minerals such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium are lost), and renal failure (when the kidneys do not receive enough blood/fluid).
Diarrhea results in the loss of fluids and electrolytes together with stool. You must drink enough fluids to compensate for the loss. Dehydration can become significant if it does not improve (resolve), if it worsens, or if it is not treated appropriately.
Causes of Diarrhea
Diarrhea is most frequently caused by a virus that affects your bowel (“viral gastroenteritis”). The infection typically lasts a few days and is occasionally referred to as “intestinal flu.”
Other probable causes of diarrhea include the following:
- a food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance
- a food allergy
- an adverse reaction to a medication
- a viral infection
- a bacterial infection
- an intestinal disease
- a parasitic infection
- gallbladder or stomach surgery
Associated Symptoms of Diarrhea
When you have diarrhea, the symptoms you encounter vary depending on the severity of diarrhea and the cause of diarrhea. There is a connection between severe diarrhea and a medical problem that requires treatment.
You may have all of these symptoms or just a few when you have diarrhea. Diarrhea’s primary symptom is loose or watery feces.
Diarrhea may be accompanied by other symptoms. These include:
Treatment of Diarrhea
Diarrhea is typically treated by replacing lost fluids. This merely indicates that you should consume more water or electrolyte replacement beverages, such as sports drinks.
In more severe situations, fluids may be administered via intravenous therapy. If your diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications are also a modality of treatment.