RUN to the toilet with just a few extra seconds?
It affects most people from time to time – but is diarrhea something you should worry about and what causes it?
Gut health in both children and adults depends on how well the digestive system or digestive tract is working.
Community pharmacist, Sultan Dajani explains that the intestines function properly, it can digest food efficiently and eliminate waste (i.e. feces) easily and at least four times a week.
He said things can go wrong in the large intestine and stools become too soft and loose – which is a sign of diarrhea.
8 times you should not ignore when you have diarrhea
We all have days where we use the toilet a little more than usual.
Sometimes looser stools can be the result of drinking a lot of alcohol at night, nerve damage, or eating foods that are slightly “nasty”.
But there are many different causes of diarrhea, from Covid-19 to anxiety, that may require further investigation.
According to the NHS, the most common cause of diarrhea is gastroenteritis, which is usually caused by bacteria or a virus.
Gastroenteritis is very common, especially in children.
It usually goes away on its own after a week, but unfortunately the only treatment is rest at home.
Viruses such as rotavirus and norovirus can both cause gastroenteritis.
If you are unlucky enough to have this type of diarrhea, you may also experience sudden abdominal pain and vomiting.
Some people also develop diarrhea with Covid-19, which seems to be more common with age.
About 1 in 10 children have diarrhea, or 30% of those over 35, according to the ZOE Covid Symptom Research app.
It is important that if you think you have caught Covid, you should get tested and isolated.
Bacteria found in food can also give you saliva droplets and this includes campylobacter and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
This is a type of gastroenteritis and is not usually cause for concern.
You can get sick from E.coli bacteria from eating undercooked hamburgers or from swallowing contaminated pool water.
Some people are at risk for more severe disease affecting their kidneys, including young children and people with weakened immune systems.
Diarrhea can also be caused by a parasite, which is found around the world.
The most common type is giardia infection, caused by a bug found in lakes and streams, public water sources, and swimming pools.
Cyclospora is caused by a small parasite consumed by eating raw fruits and vegetables contaminated with human feces.
The NHS says people traveling abroad often get this type of infection.
When should you seek help?
Usually diarrhea is something you have to get over, as it will go away on its own.
You must miss school or work if you are unwell for at least two days, as this indicates you have a contagious bug.
Pharmacists can help with medications to reduce diarrhea and its related symptoms, such as dehydration.
But call a pharmacy or contact them online before visiting in person. You can either have your medication delivered or have someone collect it.
The NHS requires calling 111 if:
- there is blood in the diarrhea, or you are bleeding from the bottom
- diarrhea that lasts more than seven days, or vomiting for more than two days
- you show signs of dehydration (less wet diapers in babies) despite using a rehydration pack
- you can’t keep the liquid down
- you are worried about a baby under 12 months
- your baby has stopped feeding (breast or bottle feeding)
Call 999 if you or your child:
- vomiting blood or vomit that looks like ground coffee
- have green or yellow-green vomit
- may have swallowed something poisonous
- stiff neck and pain when looking at bright lights
- have a sudden, severe headache or stomachache
Traveler has diarrhea
Diarrhea can happen at the worst times while on vacation or traveling.
It is caused by consuming contaminated food or water because hygiene rules in other countries may not be as strong.
Food allergy or intolerance
Some people cannot tolerate certain foods – such as dairy or gluten.
Known as a food intolerance, symptoms such as diarrhea, wind chill, and a rash can occur several hours after eating the problematic food.
Meanwhile, a food allergy is caused by the immune system overreacting, and can cause wheezing and hives very quickly after eating that food.
It can be life-threatening.
Anxiety is a mental health condition, but one of its physical symptoms can be diarrhea.
The brain and gut are interconnected, so when you’re distressed, chemical messages from the brain can lead to the gut reacting to symptoms of stomach upset, such as diarrhea.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a long-term health condition that can seriously affect the lives of people with the syndrome.
The main symptoms are diarrhea or constipation, as IBS weakens the digestive system.
The NHS says the exact cause is unknown – it has to do with things like food passing through the intestines too quickly or too slowly, sensitive nerves in the gut, stress and a family history of IBS.
How to treat diarrhea?
Not everyone has to run to the toilet all day, and there are several ways you can treat diarrhea.
Fortunately, most cases resolve on their own and do not require treatment.
However, due to the amount of fluid passing through your body, it is likely that you will become dehydrated.
Until you feel better, you should try drinking small sips of water.
You can also try and use oral rehydration solutions that are often available at your local pharmacy.
As soon as you can, try eating solid foods.
To avoid infecting anyone else, you should stay home for 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhea.
You should see your doctor if you also have blood in your stools and you are vomiting constantly.
If you have lost weight and your stools are dark or black then you should also see your GP as this could be a sign of bowel cancer.
https://www.thesun.ie/health/7359404/what-causes-diarrhoea-treat-it-when-see-doctor/ What causes diarrhea and when should I see a doctor?