What Causes Diarrhoea and How to Protect Yourself From It

Diarrhoea can be identified by having a loose and runny stool, or by the recurrent need to go to the bathroom. The positive side of this disease is that it normally does not require treatment and often vanishes in just a few days. Albeit diarrhoea can also be classified as severe or persistent.

Severe diarrhoea transpires when the increase in stool frequency and volume goes on for one to two days. One of the common causes of diarrhoea is a viral or bacterial infection. Also, it is possible to get this from a food poisoning incident. 

When you are on vacation, there’s this phenomenon called traveller’s diarrhoea and it can be a result of being exposed to parasites and bacteria. This often leads to acute diarrhoea. When diarrhoea is categorized as persistent it means that the condition lasts for a minimum of four weeks. It frequently occurs as a result of intestinal disorders, including Crohn’s or celiac disease.

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What are the possible causes of diarrhoea? 

Experiencing diarrhoea may trace back to a few potential sources or circumstances. Some of the possible causes of diarrhoea are:

  • Stomach or gallbladder surgery
  • Side effect from taking certain medication
  • Food intolerance (lactose, gluten, and casein)
  • Allergy to food
  • Viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection
  • Intestinal disease

For children who have diarrhoea, it may be a symptom of Rotavirus. Bacterial infections caused by salmonella and E.coli may also lead to diarrhoea. Moreover, persistent diarrhoea may be an indicator of a larger problem. These may include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Recurrent and acute diarrhoea may signal a functional bowel disorder (FBD) or an intestinal disorder.

What are the first signs of diarrhoea? 

There are several signs and symptoms of diarrhoea. You may experience more than one of these simultaneously. These symptoms may vary depending on what has caused the diarrhoea. Always consult your doctor when you experience any of these:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Stomach ache and cramps
  • Dehydration
  • Periodic desire to defecate
  • A large volume of stool
  • Blood on the stool
  • Fever

What type of dehydration does diarrhoea cause? 

When you endure diarrhoea you are also facing the threat of possible dehydration as this results in losing an intense amount of fluid. If you fail to get medicated for diarrhoea it can prompt adverse reactions. The following are a couple of symptoms that you should look out for when dehydration happens:

  • A noticeable surge in heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache and lightheadedness
  • Amplified thirst
  • Reduced urination
  • Dry mucous membrane

Always get in touch with your physician if you notice that your diarrhoea is accompanied by dehydration.

When should I be concerned about baby diarrhoea? 

Diarrhoea in young children is considered a critical condition. Infants are at risk of severe dehydration in just one day of having the disease. If you notice that your child has these signs of dehydration, call a paediatrician or an emergency service as soon as possible:

  • A decline in bladder activity
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • No tears when crying
  • Drowsiness
  • Sunken eyes and fontanel
  • Irritable or becomes short-tempered

Your child should be taken to the emergency room if:

  • Their fever is at 102℉ (39℃) or higher
  • Their diarrhoea episodes have been recurring for 24 hours or even longer
  • Their faeces have blood or pus
  • Black and tarry faeces

How does a doctor diagnose diarrhoea? 

A physician may require you to undergo a thorough physical examination and may review your medical history to fully determine the root cause of your diarrhoea. It is also possible for a doctor to seek laboratory tests that will examine urine and blood samples to get more data.

Moreover, the doctor can request additional tests such as:

  • Fasting tests to find out if diarrhoea is caused by food intolerance or allergy
  • Imaging tests to discover any inflammation or abnormalities in the intestine
  • A stool sample to determine the cause of diarrhoea
  • Colonoscopy to examine the entire colon for indications of intestinal disease
  • Sigmoidoscopy to inspect the rectum and lower colon for symptoms of intestinal disorder

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are recommended for people who have chronic diarrhoea as these two can pinpoint intestinal disease.

What do doctors prescribe for diarrhoea? 

The usual route for treating diarrhoea involves the replacement of lost liquids. You will need to drink lots of water or sports beverages as these contain electrolytes. In critical states of diarrhoea, fluid intake is done via intravenous therapy. If your doctor has determined the cause of your diarrhoea to be a bacterial infection, they may direct you to take antibiotics.

Your physician will choose your medical treatment based on these conditions:

  • Age
  • Medical history
  • Overall health
  • How severe and frequent the diarrhoea is and its related diseases
  • How serious the dehydration status is
  • Whether the person is capable of tolerating certain medical procedures and medications

How can diarrhoea be prevented? 

Here are some tried-and-true ways to prevent a diarrhoea infection:

  • If the source of diarrhoea is food poisoning, this can be avoided by proper food preparation. Furthermore, you should frequently wash your cooking utensils and areas.
  • It is recommended to serve the food instantly after preparation.
  • Place leftover food in the refrigerator or throw it away.
  • Thawed frozen food should be placed in the refrigerator unless it’s going to be cooked right away.

How do I protect myself from traveller’s diarrhoea? 

Travelling may cause traveller’s diarrhoea, but you can easily avert this by engaging in the following steps:

  • Before your departure, contact your doctor and see if you can start an antibiotic medication. This treatment will substantially decrease your chances of getting traveller’s diarrhoea.
  • Steer clear from tap water and fresh produce that you think has been cleaned using tap water. It is strongly advised to buy bottled water to ensure your safety.
  • Only eat cooked food while you are on vacation.

What can be done to stop the spread of diarrhoea germs? 

An effective way to mitigate diarrhoea caused by viral and bacterial infections is to wash your hands properly and frequently. Use soap and warm water, and scrub your hands for 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use a hand sanitiser instead.