Diarrhea is a condition in which a person eliminates watery stools and the frequency of the stools is more than normal. It is a result of indigestion or an "upset stomach" as most of us call it. Typical symptoms are loose stools, stomach pain resulting from indigestion, nausea, headaches, fever and sometimes blood in the stools
- A viral infection caused by viruses such as norwalk virus, herpes simplex, rotavirus and hepatitis.
- A bacterial infection caused by consuming contaminated food or water.
- Sensitivity to certain food items such as milk due to lactose intolerance in some people may lead to a bout of diarrhea after eating such foods.
- Certain medicines which the person might be consuming, may not suit him, such as antibiotics are known to cause stomach disorders in many people, leading to diarrhea.
- It could also be due to the prevalence of some serious underlying diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, AIDS, Crohn's disease, cholera, bowel cancer, appendicitis, etc.
Acute diarrhea i.e diarrhea which lasts for less than three weeks can be treated with the help of some home remedies and sometimes medication might also be used. Doctors may prescribe anti-motility medications, absorbents, and bismuth compounds to some patients. Various oral rehydration solutions are also recommended by doctors and if the condition is severe, intravenous fluids are given. Antibiotics are prescribed in some rare cases, such as if there is a bacterial infection or if the diarrhea is infectious in origin. However, constant diarrhea and upset stomach which is chronic i.e continuing for months all together, more than often is due to some serious medical condition and has to be properly diagnosed and treated accordingly. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics for chronic diarrhea.
Drink lots of water, at least 2-3 liters per day. Include sports drinks such as Gatorade as well as soups and broths in the diet. Increasing the fluid intake will ensure that the lost electrolytes and the fluids lost due to diarrhea are restored back in the body. One thing to remember though is, not to take fruit juices or soft drinks for overcoming dehydration, when suffering from diarrhea, as they can worsen the condition since they are not easy to digest foods.
The foods should be such that they are easily digestible and are very light on the stomach. Rice, potatoes, toast and bananas are examples of such foods. Properly cooked vegetables be it carrots or beans, can also be easily digested and hence are good. If you are allergic to certain foods, then it is better to discontinue such foods from your diet. Foods rich in fiber and sugar can make the condition worse, so they should be avoided too along with fatty and spicy foods.
In the end, it would pay to note that diarrhea is a condition that should never be taken lightly. The first thing to do when you experience diarrhea is to contact a doctor immediately. This is because upset stomach and diarrhea cause frequent watery stools, sometimes six to seven times in a day, resulting in severe dehydration in the body. And, if accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting and blood in stools, it can lead to many serious complications, especially if timely treatment is not taken.