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Diarrhoea: What it is, what causes it, and how to treat it

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Raise your hand if you have ever repeatedly gone to the bathroom just to defecate? Then there was a good chance you had diarrhoea. Surely you have heard that one, right?

Diarrhoea or diarrhea is a very common disease that many people undergo at least once in their lifetime.

Most people do not recognise the specific cause of it as the disease usually disappears by itself in three to four days.

However, according to Our World In Data’s report, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under five.

The disease is responsible for killing more than 500.000 children worldwide every year. In this article, we will discuss the definition of, types of, causes of, and treatment of diarrhea.

You can contact Medi-Call doctors through the 24-Hour Call-Center or via the Medi-Call app.

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Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a digestive disorder in which one has a watery bowel movement three times or more a day.

Defecating several times a day, if not watery, can not be classified as diarrhea.

On the contrary, having watery stools less than three times a day can not be called diarrhea either. These two conditions must be fulfilled.

Diarrhoea can be classified into three types.

Firstly, acute diarrhoea. It is watery diarrhea that lasts only a few days, mostly it does not need any treatment.

Secondly, persistent diarrhea. It is the type of diarrhea that persists for 2 weeks to a month.

Thirdly, chronic diarrhea, this diarrhea lasts more than a month. This condition is usually caused by allergies or medications.

There are a myriad of possibilities as to why a person can get diarrhoea.

Although, most of the time, one can recover before even knowing the cause. Here are the five main causes:

  • bacterial infections: the food and drink you consume may contain E. coli, Shigella, or Salmonella bacteria. These can cause bloody stool;
  • viral infections: rotavirus, norovirus, adenovirus, viral gastroenteritis and viral hepatitis are the most common viruses that lead to diarrhoea;
  • medications: some antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin have side effects that cause diarrhea;
  • lactose intolerance: lactose is the sugar we find in milk. It occurs when one does not have the required amount of enzymes to process and break down lactose;
  • fructose: this can be found in honey, apples, pears, oranges, and some other fruits. 

Diarrhoea and How to Treat it

In most cases, diarrhoea will go away on its own without any intervention or treatment.

However, if diarrhea has been going on for several weeks, there are several steps you can perform at home.

Number one, the BRAT (banana, rice, applesauce, toast) diet. As we all know, foods in this type of diet tend to be low in fibre but be careful to not carry it out for a long time because of its’ insufficient nutrition.

Number two, hydration, diarrhea can cause dehydration as we lose a lot of fluids. Therefore, it is a must to drink enough water. Every time we have a watery bowel movement, we need to drink a glass of water to replace the lost fluids. Lastly, rest. Remember, it is vital to give our bodies time to relax.

Call a doctor immediately if you or your loved one experience symptoms of diarrhea.

You can also contact Medi-Call doctors through the 24-Hour Call-Center or via the Medi-Call app.

If dehydration is involved, getting infusion / intravenous therapy is highly recommended to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes to make sure you stay hydrated.

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