Diarrhea is the increased frequency in bowel movements or inability to form solid stool. Usually these two are a combination of the common diarrhea. Most diarrheas are frequent bowel movements that have a watery consistence.
Who Gets Diarrhea?
Anyone can get diarrhea. Especially small children and older adults commonly suffer from diarrhea. It is the body’s reaction to something in these age groups that typically does not affect a healthy adult.
Symptoms of Diarrhea
Diarrhea itself is a symptom of another underlying illness. You are considered to have diarrhea if you are having more than 5 bowel movements a day for the average person. This is for the person who usually has 4-5 bowel movements a day. If you are a person who only has one bowel movement a day than you may have diarrhea if you have three bowel movements in one day. Diarrhea is often accompanied by an urgency to use the bathroom, incontinence also may occur and the feeling that you have not completed a bowel movement but the second movement is difficult to produce.What Causes Diarrhea?
The most common causes of diarrhea are viral, bacterial and parasitic infections. Food poisoning is also a common cause of diarrhea.
Viral Gastroenteritis is the number one cause of diarrhea. It is simple a stomach bug which effects the stomach and small intestines. It generally last a few days.
The other causes of diarrhea can be caused by parasites, bacterial infections such as E. coli and food poisoning. Drugs and medications can also induce diarrhea. Common drugs which can cause diarrhea include: NSAIDs, Chemotherapy, antibiotics, and medications for high blood pressure to name a few. You should consult a pharmacist or physician if diarrhea occurs shortly after beginning a new medication.
Over the Counter Treatments for Diarrhea
There are several over the counter treatments for Diarrhea. The most common are the anti-motility drugs such as Imodium. This medicine works on two parts of diarrhea. It slows the action in the intestines allowing the stool to move through more slowly and reduces the water in the stool that way and by also relieving cramps commonly associated with diarrhea. Another type of medication used to treat diarrhea is Pepto-Bismol. This type of medication contains bismuth. It is not clear how well it works on common diarrhea but has been shown to effectively treat Traveler’s diarrhea which is generally due from E. coli.
Alternative Treatments for Diarrhea
Replacement of fluids is very important part of treating diarrhea. Most cases of diarrhea should go away on their own in less than 72 hours. The key is to keep hydrated to prevent further complications of dehydration.
When Should Medical Advice be Sought for Diarrhea?
If a case of diarrhea has lasted more than 72 hours or the stomach pain is severe than a medical professional should be seen. Diarrhea in small children can quickly lead to dehydration so it is important to keep a close eye on small children to ensure there are no further complications from diarrhea. A medical professional should also be consulted if the stool from the diarrhea appears abnormal for diarrhea. If it contains blood or pus a medical professional should be consulted.
Medical Treatments for Diarrhea
Diarrhea itself is generally allowed to take its course and is only treated with over the counter medications which can relieve the symptoms. If diarrhea persists or if the cause of the diarrhea is known than medical professionals can treat the underlying cause of the diarrhea. This will have to be done on an individual basis and is up the discretion of the physician.