Diarrhea
Last Edited: April 10th, 2012

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Diarrhea

Suffering from diarrhea brings people's normal routine to a halt. While occasional diarrhea does not pose a serious health risk, suffering from this gastric sickness more frequently can put a person's health in jeopardy. To safeguard their gastrointestinal health, people should know the causes and treatments for this illness.

Common Causes

A host of viruses can cause diarrhea. Children in particular fall ill with this condition when they contract Rotavirus, a common viral infection that affects millions of children each year. Additionally, Norwalk virus and hepatitis also cause diarrhea in most individuals. Along with viruses, people who come into contact with certain bacteria and parasites often develop this condition. Drinking unclean water, swimming in dirty water, and working closely with sick animals put people at risk of developing diarrhea. Additionally, eating foods and drinking beverages to which people are allergic or intolerant typically results in bouts of sickness. For example, those who cannot tolerate lactose often fall ill with diarrhea after eating or drinking dairy foods. Last, certain medications have side effects that include loose stools and diarrhea. This is common with antibiotics and cold medications.

Symptoms

People who suffer from diarrhea often experience stomach cramps and bloating. When they go to the bathroom, they have loose stools, or their stools may be entirely liquid. Blood in the stool, chills, and fever accompany more severe cases of this illness. People with diarrhea experience these symptoms for repeated bowel movements.

Home Remedies

Bringing these symptoms under control and halting this illness should begin with a person changing his or her diet. Doctors recommend that people begin a clear liquid diet and only consume foods like jello, broth, weak tea, and popsicles. As they improve, they can introduce bland solids into their diet. Many doctors recommend that people start with bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast. Within a few days, they should be able to return to a normal dietary routine. Along with changing their diet, people are cautioned to wash their hands frequently. Many common surfaces, like doorknobs, shopping cart handles, remote control devices, and keyboards are full of contaminants that cause diarrhea. Frequent hand washing also helps those individuals who work with farm animals or around dirty water.

Other Treatments

A variety of over-the-counter medications are available to those who cannot control their diarrhea with dietary changes and hand washing. Popular choices include loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate. These medications come in both liquid and pill form. OTC medications often work best with diarrhea that is caused by viral infections, such as Rotavirus. Infections caused by bacteria or parasites are often made worse by taking anti-diarrheal medicines. If medications fail to work, people may have to see their doctor. Physicians can administer stronger drugs via an intravenous line, which proves effective in halting most cases of diarrhea.

Diarrhea affects many people each year. Recurrent cases can seriously alter a person's health. Taking precautions helps people avoid most diarrhea infections.