Diarrhea is a condition where your bowel movements become loose or watery. The standard definition implies passing more than three liquid bowel movements daily, or more than one litre of stool. Diarrhea occurs when the contents of the gastrointestinal tract are moving too rapidly, causing fewer fluids and nutrients to be absorbed.
Fortunately, many cases of diarrhea are temporarily and don’t need particular treatment. However, diarrhea may become dangerous, especially if it leads to dehydration. It can signal an infection or a more serious issue, so consulting your doctor for advice is often mandatory. To lessen your symptoms and ensure faster improvement, you may need to use OTC medicine, probiotics or even antibiotics. Here’s everything you need to know when dealing with this uncomfortable condition.
Causes of Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea can happen due to various causes. Usually, the following factors are responsible for gut imbalance:
- Infection: When a certain virus, bacteria or parasite comes into your gut, you get as some people call it “ the stomach flu”. Infectious diarrhea is mostly caused by viruses such as calicivirus, adenovirus or rotavirus which passes from person to person, bacteria like salmonella and E. Colli, commonly found in contaminated food and water, and some parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia.
- Eating foods that disturb the digestive system, like spicy food, garlic and onions, broccoli and cauliflower;
- Food intolerance such as lactose intolerance https://www.everydayhealth.com/lactose-intolerance/guide/). Lactose intolerance means that your body doesn’t have the necessary enzymes to break down specific sugars in dairy, instead, it tries to get rid of these sugars in form of diarrhea. Some people may have diarrhea caused by food intolerance after eating foods that contain fructose or after consuming sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol.
- Alcohol abuse;
- Inflammatory bowel disorder such as Crohn’s disease;
- Surgery when the bowel has been partially removed;
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism);
- Malabsorption (trouble absorbing some nutrients);
- Medicines such as antibiotics, antacids and diabetes tablets may cause diarrhea as a side effect.
How to Treat Diarrhoea
Most adults experience diarrhea at some time. Some people don’t need any specific treatment, as it normally lasts 2 to 3 days. However, there are some treatments that are proven to be effective in providing relief from symptoms and shortening the duration of the condition.
Your first pillar in fighting diarrhea are anti-motility medicines, usually called anti-diarrhoeal medicines such as Gastro Stop. These medicines can provide immediate relief after 2-3 hours of consuming. Recommended for mild or moderate symptoms of diarrhea, you may obtain these medicines OTC from a local or online pharmacy.
The active ingredient loperamide found in Gastro Stop tablets as well as other anti-diarrhoeal medicines like Imodium and Stop-It slows down the movement of the intestines, giving the digestive tract more time to absorb water and electrolytes.
What is great about these medicines is that they also relieve symptoms of with indigestion, heartburn, stomach aches and cramps and settle an upset stomach. This gastro medication reduces the number of diarrhoeal stools, however, it can lead to some complications for people suffering from serious infections, due to delaying of the expulsion of the infectious agents. So, if you’re experiencing severe diarrhoea, blood in your stool, pain and have a fever, avoid taking OTC medicines and contact your doctor immediately.
Gastro-stop is generally considered safe for pregnant women, but it’s always best to consult your physician/gynecologist. On the other hand, it should never be used to treat diarrhea in babies and children.
If diarrhea is conformed by a stool sample to be caused by bacteria or parasite, you should get adequate antibiotics, prescribed from your doctor.
Some people find relief from their symptoms by taking a probiotic supplement. This is often the case with diarrhea caused by antibiotic use. Some of the most beneficial probiotics for restoring gut balance ar Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis. The supplements can be bought conveniently over-the-counter.
Change of Diet
Whenever you experience diarrhea, you should restrict your food intake and concentrate on good food that will help your intestine system recover. Avoid foods such as meat, fish, milk, and milk-based products( cheese, ice-cream) and uncooked vegetables. Consume cooked food, preferably hot.
Yoghurt, though, can be consumed (as it usually contains good bacteria that bring back the balance to your gut). You may eat bananas, rice, apples, toast bread, oatmeal, boiled potatoes, baked chicken or chicken stew as these are simple foods that the gut tolerates well. Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, soft drinks) and alcohol as they may aggravate your symptoms and make you dehydrated.
Being hydrated is fundamentally important for your health while suffering from diarrhea. Make sure you take plenty of fluids. The recommended fluids are:
- Water, but as the body losses minerals and electrolytes, also make sure to drink:
- Oral rehydration fluids (available in pharmacies) that contain electrolytes, important minerals that help balance the amount of water and pH levels;
- Chicken/vegetable broth;
- Diluted juices (one part juice to 5 parts water).
Some types of diarrhea can be contagious, so it’s crucial to apply preventive measures every time. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap and don’t gather a group of people for dinner anytime soon, as you may still be infectious even if you feel better.