Diarrhoea is one of the most common conditions of ill health experienced by people around the world. It can be caused by a range of reasons like eating food prepared in an unhealthy way, infection of the intestines by bacteria, virus or a parasite, gastrointestinal infection. In some extreme cases, it can come as a side effect of cancer medications or for hyperthyroidism or alcohol abuse.
The condition sets in with loose, watery bowel movements. Not all such incidents should be interpreted as diarrhoea. There are many other signs of diarrhoea that include increased frequency of bowel movements preceded by an intense discomfort in the stomach, loss of the skin’s stretchiness etc. When the condition becomes more severe, it may lead to a drop in urination, rapid heart beating, and severe dehydration.

Diarrhoea can be diagnosed by consulting a doctor dealing in gastroenterology. Sometimes, consulting a general physician would also do. The former is advised in the event of acute diarrhoea. The most common way to investigate the condition is by a stool specimen. A sample of the patient is sent to a lab and examined for the presence of pathogens like Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., E. coli O157, Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp. This is done in case the cause of diarrhoea is unknown, but the condition remains persistent i.e., presence of blood or pus in the stool.

The treatment of diarrhoea is fairly uncomplicated.

In most cases, medications prescribed by the doctor work. Antispasmodics and anti-motility drugs are sometimes used to relieve the discomfort. If the case is severe, anti bacterial drugs may be used. If the patient has severe discomfort and is unable to retain any body fluids and is stuck with severe dehydration, the patient must be rushed to the hospital.

It is best advised to drink loads of fluids and water. One way to prevent dehydration is by using Oral Rehydration Solution. Nothing replaces clean and potable drinking water that can act as a very good method of therapy. In the case of infants and small kids, giving them nutrient-rich foods in the form of breast milk and cereals and baby foods in fluid form should work. Once a person has been cured of diarrhoea and returns to normal bowel movement, care must be taken so as to ensure that it does not affect him again. Furthermore, steps must be taken to ensure that the food eaten by the affected person is not in contact with others.

Diarrhoea is contagious and may spread from one person to another. Being the second leading cause of child death in the world, proper care must be taken to make sure that the children of the family are on healthy diet. Since prevention is better than cure, it is always advised to have a great sense of personal and environmental hygiene, avoiding eating food prepared under unhealthy circumstances and drinking clean, potable water.

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