As per WHO, Diarrhoea is defined as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual). Frequent passing of formed stools is not diarrhoea, nor is the passing of loose, "pasty" stools by breastfed babies.
It is usually the symptom of gastrointestinal infection, which can be caused by a variety of viral, parasitic and bacteria organisms.As per UNICEF report, diarrhoeal diseases account for nearly 1.3 million deaths a year among children under-five years of age making them the second most common cause of child deaths worldwide. Over half of the deaths occur in just five countries: India, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ethiopia. It is both preventable and treatable. Severe diarrhoea leads to fluid loss and may be life-threatening particularly in young children and people who are malnourished or have impaired immunity. Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking-water or from person to person as a result of poor hygiene. Diarrhoea caused by contaminated food or water while travelling is often known as traveller’s diarrhoea.
Diarrhea is associated with symptoms depending on the cause and who is affected.
In addition to the symptoms described above, the symptoms of complicated diarrhoea include:
Diarrhoea usually occurs when fluid cannot be absorbed from the contents of bowel or when extra fluid is secreted into bowel causing watery faeces.
Short-term diarrhoea : Diarrhoea is usually a symptom of gastroenteritis (a bowel infection). It can be caused by:
Other causes of short-term diarrhoea include:
Diarrhoea can also sometimes be a side effect of medicineslike :
Diarrhea can also sometimes be caused by bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery that is used as a last resort to treat people who are dangerously obese).
The following diarrhoeal conditions should be further investigated:
Stool sample: To know the cause of the infection
Blood test: Blood test is generally done to test the signs of inflammation which may suggest disease like inflammatory bowel disease If the cause of diarrhoea is still not clear, then patient may be advised for further investigations. Like:
Drink fluids : It is important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) : ORS should be used to prevent dehydration. Standard home solutions such as salted rice water, salted yoghurt drinks, vegetable and chicken soups with salt can be given.
Medications: Antibiotics are beneficial in certain types of acute diarrhoea, they are usually not used except in specific situations. Over the counter drug Pepto-Bismol ( Bismuth subsalicylate ) , or anti-motility drug Imodium plus ( Loperamide hydrochloride with simethicone ) are few of medicines for diarrhoea.
Eating : WHO recommends a child with diarrhoea should continue to be fed. Continued feeding speeds the recovery of normal intestinal function. In contrast, children whose food is restricted, have diarrhoea of longer duration and recovery of intestinal function is slow.
To prevent the spread of infections that cause diarrhoea, always maintain high standards of hygiene. For example: