Diarrhea is a condition in which a person experiences frequent discharge of feces from the bowels. Diarrhea often appears in a watery, liquid form and is the second most reported form of illnesses in the U.S. Diarrhea is believed to be caused by bacteria in food or may be caused by illnesses or viruses. This condition can cause dehydration in a person. There are various forms of diarrhea such as chronic diarrhea. Diarrhea can also be symptomatic of Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colitis. Therefore, consult your doctor for any medical concerns you may have.
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Diarrhea is an uncomfortable condition whereby some patients need to find a restroom right away. Sometimes, diarrhea appears suddenly but you can recognize the symptoms of diarrhea if you observe the following:
- Abdominal bloating or cramps
- Thin or loose stools
- Watery stools
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Bloating or feeling full
- Blood in the stool
If you experience diarrhea for more than a few days, immediately notify your doctor. This can be a sign of a more serious health condition.
The cause of diarrhea varies, as its appearance may be a symptom of a virus or bacteria and other parasites, or it may indicate a more serious medical issue. In other instances, diarrhea may be attributed to contaminated foods, spoiled foods, water or if a patient has recently traveled to other countries with questionable sanitary conditions. Other causes of diarrhea include medication whose side effects include diarrhea or if a patient is lactose intolerant. Also, ingesting an excess amount of sugar such as artificial sweeteners or fruits may result in a bout of diarrhea the next day.
Diarrhea may be characterized as the frequent discharge of stool, more than three times in one day. In most cases, diarrhea does not require special care from a health professional. However, for young children, diarrhea may present serious health issues as infants or young children may die from dehydration in a few days due to diarrhea. In serious cases, a person who has had diarrhea for more than three days, severe pain in the abdomen, high fever or bloody stools should consult their doctor immediately. In these instances, a doctor may request laboratory tests or a review of a patient’s medical history to understand what is causing this condition.
In mild cases of diarrhea, a patient can usually let the body expel the watery bowel movement. He/she should make sure to drink plenty of liquids, fruit juice without the pulp, broth or soda. Other options include low-fat chicken broth, tea with honey and sports drink (which replaces any electrolytes lost). Make sure to take it easy and not to exert yourself doing strenuous activities. For other types of diarrhea lasting more than a week, consult your doctor to see if there are other underlying medical reasons causing the diarrhea.