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Diarrhoea: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Control

Updated on August 2, 2017

Diarrhoeal disease forms a group of intestinal infections including food poisoning. The main symptom of all such infections is diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is an abnormally frequent discharge of semisolid or fluid faeces. Symptoms of the diarrhoea include decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, borborygmus(gurgling noise produced by the movement of gas in the alimentary canal) and abdominal cramps. There may be blood and mucus in the stools. Persisted vomiting and loose stools cause dehydration and shock. Blood pressure may fall, pulse rate increases and temperature rise.Infection of diarrhoea spread through contaminated food, water, drinks, hands, clothes, bed sheets and utensils. It is one of the major causes of infant mortality.


What Causes Diarrhoea?

The causative agents of diarrhoea are:

  • Bacteria such as Esherichia Coli, Clostridium Botulinum, Shigella dysentiriae, Campylobacter jejuri and Salmonella.
  • The protozoans- Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia intestinalis, Balantidium coli.
  • Some viruses-Rotavirus, Enterovirus, Adenovirus and Norwalk.
  • Nematodes(Ascaris) also act as causative agents of diarrhoea.
  • Eating contaminated food and water.
  • Drinking too much alcohol and caffeine.
  • It can also result from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • Lactose intolerance can also upset the balance in stomach leading to diarrhoea.
  • Eating spicy and fatty foods.
  • It can also be a side effect of taking medicines like antacid medicines, antibiotics, laxatives and statins.

Symptoms of Diarrhoea

  • Frequent loose motions and vomiting leading to dehydration.
  • Dehydration(loss of water from body tissues) which makes the patient dangerously ill in a very short time.
  • In the case of dehydration, the patient becomes irritable, eyes appear sunken, the nose is pinched and the tongue and the inner side of cheeks appear dry.
  • There is sudden weight loss, weak pulse, deep breathing and fever or fits.
  • Watery stool and stomach cramps.
  • Urgent need to go to the toilet.
  • Other serious symptoms may include blood and pus in the stool, repeated vomiting and inability to increase fluid intake.

How to Prevent?

  • Eatables should be covered to prevent their contamination.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be properly washed before use.
  • Proper personal hygiene is important. Hands should be washed with soap and water before eating any food.
  • Stale food should not be consumed.
  • Community hygiene is also important.

How to Control Diarrhoea?

  • Complete bed rest should be ensured till the illness is fully controlled.
  • Pulp of boiled unripe banana along with required amount of salt, turmeric powder and lime is helpful in controlling the diarrhoea.
  • Husk of isabgol seed(Plantago ovata) with water and curd provides relief.
  • If there is frequent vomiting, liberal amount of fluids with electrolytes should be provided orally.
  • Dilute soups and pulses, rice water and butter milk can also be given to compensate the loss of water.
  • For treating diarrhoea, anti-microbial drugs and anti diarrhoeal agents should be used.
  • Spicy food, alcohol, caffeine etc should be avoided.
  • Eating low fiber BRAT food- bananas, rice (white), applesauce, toast, will help in firming up the stool.
  • Probiotics like yoghurt, cottage cheese, kefir, etc should be consumed
  • If symptoms persist, immediately consult a Doctor.
  • Chamomile tea and ginger tea might help in relieving the symptoms.

How to Prevent Dehydration in Diarrhoea?

Dehydration of patient can be countered with oral rehydration therapy, i.e., intake of adequate fluids and electrolytes. Relief can be provided by oral rehydration in diarrhoea by giving the patient a mixture of salt, sugar and water, three to four times a day. An ideal solution called ORS(Oral Rehydration Solution) to prevent dehydration can be prepared as follows:

  • Take a glass of water and add to it- 3 teaspoonfuls of sugar, a quarter teaspoonful of common salt, a pinch of sodium bicarbonate and a few drops of lemon juice. Mix it well and give this solution to the patient having diarrhoea at least three to four times a day to prevent dehydration. It should be kept in mind that this solution is made for preventing dehydration and it contains sugar which is a good nutrient for the growth of microorganisms. So, if the solution is kept for a long time then microorganisms will grow in it and it will get spoiled. In this way, this ORS will become unfit for the patient. So, a small quantity must be prepared fresh each time just before giving it to the patient to prevent further infection.


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    • varsha bang profile image

      Varsha 7 months ago from India

      Yes, pal. Chronic diarrhoea is a serious issue and should not be ignored.

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 7 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Oh crap! Lol, I never realized how serious it could be.