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Diarrhea - the key facts

Multiple diseases can torture our body. Still, many of them can be invisible, not obvious for other people (it is sometimes much better to suffer on alone than in front of the others’ eyes!).

However, some diseases are so hard to hide. One of the most embarrassing and psychologically distressful conditions is diarrhea. With it watery, loose stools (because for a certain reason fluid from the consumed food is not absorbed by the colon) can occur more than three times a day. Constant rushing to the bathroom can make any person feel uncomfortable, ashamed and embarrassed. Furthermore, diarrhea can be accompanied with such symptoms as abdominal pain and bloating, nausea and vomiting, fever and frequent dark, bloody stools.

The distressful condition can be caused by multiple factors: - bacterial infection (Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, and Escherichia coli); - parasites (Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba histolytica); - viruses (rotavirus is the most common, plus Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus and viral hepatitis); - food intolerance (for example, lactose, found in milk, can cause diarrhea in many people); - medications (mostly antibiotics, blood pressure drugs, and antacids, containing magnesium); - intestinal diseases (inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease); - functional bowel disorders (for example, irritable bowel syndrome or injury to the colon or rectum); - and other conditions as the extreme excess of Vitamin C, excessive alcohol consumption, or ruptured appendix; such diseases as dysentery, cholera, botulism and radiation sickness.

Viruses, bacteria and parasites, containing in the contaminated food and water, medications and certain kinds of food cause acute diarrhea, which lasts from one or two days up to two weeks. Such condition not necessarily needs medical treatment. It can be resolved either by itself with the lapse of time, or infections, on the other hand, can be cured by antibiotics in case of severe diarrhea symptoms.

Serious diseases, mentioned above, provoke chronic diarrhea, lasting more than two weeks. This state requires medical treatment.

The most dangerous and serious result of diarrhea is dehydration – the condition, when body lacks fluid to function properly.

Dehydration in little children and infants can even have lethal consequences. That is why it is absolutely necessary to seek for emergency help if you suspect dehydration in ill persons, especially kids. The signs of this dangerous state are: dry mouth and tongue, thirst; less frequent urination (once in three hours in children); dry skin; sunken abdomen, eyes or cheeks; fatigue; lightheadedness, and fever.

It is always a must to remember that body inevitably loses water and electrolytes (salts and sodium) during diarrhea. In order to avoid dehydration, a person must consume greater amounts of water, fruit juices, broth or soups even if he/she does not undergo medical treatment.

In many cases, though, diarrhea does not require doctors’ help. It can subside in a day or two by itself. In other situations medications to stop body movements are recommended. The majority of these drugs are opioids: Loperamide (Imodium), Lomotil, Lonox, codeine, opiumtincture and morphine. Absorbents (Donnagel, Rheaban, Konsyl...) are used to make stools less watery. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.

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One more important point to remember is about traveling to the other countries. Changing water and eating traditions may also result in diarrhea. In the developing countries the cases of diarrhea due to the contaminated with parasites and bacteria food and water are very frequent. A person must avoid consuming fresh food (even fruits and vegetables) and prefer the well-known dishes to the specific ones.

Diarrhea is an unpredictable disease. It is almost unreal to avoid it during the lifetime (they say that an average adult in the USA has diarrhea about four times a year). Therefore, the information above will, hopefully, help everyone know the enemy better to be able to fight it right.


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