Diarrhea is the most commonly heard condition that may affect people of all ages. Diarrhea is loose, watery stools which occur more than three times a day. Acute diarrhea lasts only for one or two days. Chronic diarrhea that lasts for more than four weeks is considered as a sign of more complicated problem.

Diarrhea is called as stomach flu or intestinal flu. It is a viral infection that infects your gut. It also occurs if you:

  • Take laxatives regularly (laxative abuse)
  • Consume more amounts of alcohol (alcohol abuse)
  • Drink contaminated water or eat contaminated food
  • Get infected by certain viruses (rotavirus, norovirus, and flu)
  • Have diseases that affect the small intestine, or colon, such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome

Some people also get diarrhea post stomach surgery. After the surgery, there are chances that the food moves through the digestive tract quickly than normal.

You may have the symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Loose stools
  • Watery stools
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating in the stomach
  • Feeling of urge to defecate

More serious diarrhea symptoms include:

  • Bloody stools
  • Mucus in stools
  • Unusual weight loss

Continuous watery stools that occur more than thrice a day is dangerous and you may get dehydrated. To avoid this, you must drink enough fluids.

You must call your doctor immediately if you have:

  • Dry and scaly skin
  • Dark colored urine
  • Dark blackish stools
  • Fever that is 101˚F or above
  • Noticed blood in your stools
  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Diarrhea lasting for more than two days

To find out the underlying cause of diarrhea your doctor may take medication history, and perform a thorough physical examination. Stool or blood may be tested to know about the type of bacteria, parasites or viruses. If you have chronic diarrhea, your doctor would ask you to go for other tests to look for the signs of the disease. You should avoid certain foods that may trigger your diarrhea.

In diarrhea, you will feel exhausted due to the loss of body fluids. So, to rehydrate, your doctor would replace the lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Your doctor would choose an appropriate treatment option based on the underlying cause.

If you are suffering from diarrhea, then you must drink plenty of water, fruit juices and eat a soft and bland diet. You must avoid taking foods that contain caffeine and salty broths. In the case of diarrhea in children, you must give oral rehydration solutions to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes.

Yes, prevention is always better than cure. Only two types of diarrhea can be prevented - rotavirus diarrhea and traveler’s diarrhea. There are immunization schedules for rotavirus diarrhea; these vaccines are given in two to three doses for the infants.

And you can prevent the risk of traveler’s diarrhea by consuming hygienic water and food when traveling to developing countries.

  • You must drink only boiled or purified water
  • You must make sure that the food is cooked properly
  • You must avoid eating unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables