Causes, Symptoms and Prevention of Diarrhea

Causes, Symptoms and Prevention of Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the infection of the digestive tract which is also called gastrointestinal system. It is an excessive excretion of fecal material which is not normal. It is often accompanied by abdominal pain and dehydration.

It is so common that a person can get diarrhea in minutes after getting infected. For a person who is suffering from diarrhea, the first question in mind is, how to get rid of it as soon as possible?

Diarrhea is not among those infections which go away on their own. The acute cases of diarrhea last for over two weeks, making you feel sick all the times.

When diarrhea hits a person, he is most likely to pass watery stools 3-5 times in 24 hours. It is an unpleasant and highly uncomfortable situation which makes you home bound for long hours.

Chronic cases of diarrhea are more problematic to deal with. The dehydration caused by the infection is one of the major problems to face. One needs to rehydrate the body before it leaves him helpless.

Why diarrhea hits you?

Diarrhea is not a disease but body’s response to an unwanted invasion. It is body’s attempt to expel the toxins and microbes out of the body before they become more problematic. For example, certain types of bacteria and virus.

Dehydration is one reason of diarrhea and the truth is that it will make the body more dehydrated. The excessive excretion removes the water from the body along with salts and minerals. It increases the dehydration even more.

Typical symptoms of Diarrhea

If someone doesn’t know what are the basic symptoms of diarrhea, here is a general overview of them.

  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Increased use of bathroom
  • Loose motions which are watery
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Stomach bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Fever

It is not necessary for all these symptoms to occur at the same time. These symptoms may appear one by one or a person may feel only a few of them.

Who is at risk?

Following are the risk factors for diarrhea.

  • Microbial infection: Certain types of bacteria and viruses can initiate this infection. It is also transmittable from a person to person or from contaminated places.
  • Food poisoning: Eating contaminated food has a high risk to induce diarrhea.
  • Food allergies: When a person is allergic to some specific food ingredient, he is more likely to experience diarrhea. In such situations, diarrhea is an exemplary mechanism of the body to show that it is incapable to digest.
  • Dehydration: It may not sound believable but losing too much water from the body can also initiate this condition. Diarrhea results in ever more water loss. The result is severe dehydration.
  • Digestive issues: Certain digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases, and many autoimmune diseases can initiate this condition.
  • Stress: A lesser known reason is stress and anxiety. It can lead to indigestion and diarrhea.
  • Overeating: Eating more than normal quantity of the food also causes diarrhea.

Side effects of Medicines: There are certain medicines which are so powerful that they can directly combat with the body’s systems. This is an undesirable effect of medicines that they can cause diarrhea in a user.

Treatment of Diarrhea

Once a person is sure that he is suffering from diarrhea, the next step is to find a solution for it. Most of the times, the situation is not clear and it takes such a long time to realize the condition.

Some typical solutions which you can try to get rid of it are written below.

Using the medicines

Probably the first thing which comes to the mind is medicine whenever we hear of the word “infection”. The medicines for diarrhea help to get over the symptoms of it.

Medicines are not always a good choice because diarrhea is the body’s mechanism to show that there is something wrong inside. For this reason, many doctors advise the patients to wait until it either gets resolved or remains the same. In that case, medication becomes essential.

Fix by diet

A special type of diet is helpful to prevent and help with diarrhea. There may be some specific foods which initiate this condition. It is better to know and avoid them so that there is a complete control of diarrhea.

It is done by making a list of certain foods and the body’s responses towards it. Hydration is the key to keep the salt and mineral concentration in balance. Eat light food and drink plenty of water when suffering from diarrhea.

Diagnosis of Diarrhea

The doctor will ask a series of questions related to your health condition. They will include some questions on the problem and some from the medical history. Some of the questions that he would like to know can be;

  • When did this problem start?
  • What did you eat before experiencing this?
  • What is the type, consistency or the frequency of stool?
  • Whether or not there is blood in stool?
  • Is there any feeling of nausea, vomiting or fever?

These are only the sample questions, the real questions may be in a different manner. The doctor may ask you complete details or no details at all if you happen to tell him all the information by yourself.

Prevention of Diarrhea

Once the reasons of diarrhea are discovered, it is not much difficult to prevent the risks of a future attack. The basic thing to take care is a good hygiene.

Avoid all such foods and beverages about which you are not sure for hygiene. Follow a good practice of self-hygiene such as wash hands before and after eating.  Stay away from the infected people etc.

When should you see a doctor?

One important thing which many people don’t know is when should you seek medical help. Usually, it is advised to wait for a few days for correct diagnosis of diarrhea.

It means that the symptoms last for a few days. It may extend till one week. More than one week is not normal and you must see a doctor in this situation.

If the symptoms become severe, even in the initial days of infection, it is an indication that you need a doctor. Severe symptoms depict an extreme attack of diarrhea which needs care and medication.

Final thoughts

Diarrhea is a common disease which can attack anyone. From infants to old age persons, anyone could be its victim. Contrary to what it may sound, it is not a crucial disease.

It is a condition in which extremely watery stools are passed. They become much more frequent than normal and are often accompanied by abdominal pain, cramps, and nausea.

There are two types of diarrhea, acute and chronic. If it is short term it is called acute and when it lasts for more than one week it is called chronic.

There could be many reasons to initiate diarrhea. Some of them are bacterial or viral strains, contamination of food, dehydration, stress, anxiety, food allergies and side effects of medicines.

The best way to get rid of the diarrhea is to increase the intake of water. You have to practice personal hygiene and eat only the clean food. Chances are that these symptoms will go away in 2-3 days.

In case, these symptoms of diarrhea last, it is essential to contact a doctor and get its treatment. If treated on time, diarrhea is not a severe health problem.


The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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