What is diarrhea? Well, it simply refers to your urgent passing of watery stools multiple times a day. Diarrhea is a very common symptom caused by various health conditions, especially food poisoning or viral gastroenteritis.
Diarrhea is sometimes classified in various ways, such as:
- acute ~ lasts for a couple of days
- chronic ~ ongoing, comes & goes
- dysentery ~ severe, bloody diarrhea
- traveler’s diarrhea ~ caused by bacteria in foreign water & food supply, locals protected by immunity
Your watery stools may be accompanied by other symptoms, like:
- bloody stools
- anus discomfort
- stomach bloating
- urgent need to go
- abdominal cramps
- nauseated stomach
- loss of bowel control
There’s a broad range of causes for diarrhea.
- E. coli
- swine flu
- viral hepatitis
- Chagas disease
- Whipple disease
- Clostridium difficile
- herpes simplex virus
- entamoeba histolytica
Relative to food, an infection is not the solo cause for diarrhea. Sometimes, watery stools result because of how your body handles certain foods. Food intolerance or sensitivity, for example to lactose, fructose, sorbitol or artificial sweeteners, may create this and other digestive problems.
Or simply a change in diet can get the watery stool ball rolling, for instance should you start drinking an herbal tea containing senna. A few other dietary changes causing diarrhea are a substantial increase in your intake of coffee, insoluble fiber, fatty foods or very sweet foods.
Diarrhea’s watery stool issue can be caused by a drug treatment for another health condition, commonly:
- chemotherapy drugs
- blood pressure medications
- certain immunosuppressants
- antacids containing magnesium
This is just a short list of drugs that are more prone to cause diarrhea, but most medications can cause watery stools as a drug side effect.
For those who suffer from chronic diarrhea, your cause may be due to one of these various underlying health conditions:
- colon polyps
- colon cancer
- liver problems
- cystic fibrosis
- celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- stomach surgery
- radiation therapy
- pancreatic cancer
- Addison’s disease
- gallbladder removal
- heavy metal toxicity
- drug induced hepatitis
- biliary tract obstruction
- primary biliary cirrhosis
- irritable bowel syndrome
- peritoneal mesothelioma
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
- anaphylaxis ~ severe allergic reaction
- poorly managed diabetes mellitus, aka diabetic diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea can be bloody, fatty or just plain watery.
Diarrhea can be life threatening for small children because it causes dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration in babies and young children are:
- high fever
- dry mouth & tongue
- no tears while crying
- dry diapers for over 3 hours
- excessive sleepiness, drowsiness
- skin doesn’t flatten back when pinched
So what’s the cure for watery stools? Since acute stints of diarrhea will clear out on their own without much treatment, this diarrhea diet helps remedy your lost fluids, salts and whatnot:
adults ~ broth, soup, fruit juices, soft fruits, vegetables
children ~ special liquids containing replacement
Some folks have actually died from diarrhea because of large water and salt losses.
Your diarrhea diet can expand once your watery stools begin to subside. Best to start with eating soft, bland foods, like:
- plain rice
- cooked carrots
- boiled potatoes
- baked chicken ~ no skin
BRAT is the acronym for a child’s diarrhea diet, which is bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. And everything is plain in this remedy.
Taking any OTC medicine to cure diarrhea is not recommended if you have a high fever, bloody stools or are a child because their use can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome under certain health conditions. Those with a drug allergy to aspirin or other salicylates shouldn’t take bismuth subsalicylate. And never give this remedy to anyone under 18 who may be suffering from the influenza or chickenpox because of a risk for Reye’s Syndrome.
If your diarrhea is caused by a bacteria, you may need an antibiotic treatment to cure it. And talk to your health care provider if you’re experiencing severe abdominal pain, a fever, bloody stools and severe diarrhea lasting longer than a couple of days.