What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a disease that causes sufferers to have frequent bowel movements, with runny stools. In general, diarrhea results from food and beverages exposed to viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Usually diarrhea only lasts a few days (acute), but in some cases it can extend for weeks (chronic). In general, diarrhea is not dangerous if there is no dehydration. However, if accompanied by dehydration, this disease can be fatal, and sufferers need to get medical attention immediately.

Symptoms of diarrhea
Symptoms of diarrhea vary, generally including flatulence or cramps, runny stools, heartburn, or sometimes nausea and vomiting. Patients can experience one or several symptoms at once, depending on the cause of diarrhea.

Other symptoms that may also occur are:
  • Weight loss.
  • Slimy, bloody or contain undigested food.
  • Fever .
  • Headache.
While the signs that indicate diarrhea sufferers are dehydrated are:
  • Dizzy.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Urine becomes slightly or dark in color.
  • Dry mouth and skin.
  • Limp.
In infants or children, dehydration can also be identified by symptoms:
  • Eyes, stomach, and cheeks that look concave.
  • Tears decrease when crying.
  • There was no urine in the diaper for 3 hours or more.
  • Fussy.
Seek medical attention immediately if you have a baby or children who have diarrhea for more than 24 hours, especially if accompanied by symptoms of dehydration, fever exceeding 39 degrees Celsius, feces containing pus, or black stools.

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Causes of Diarrhea
Some conditions can cause a person to experience diarrhea, generally a viral infection of the large intestine. These types of viruses include rotavirus , norwalk, cytomegalovirus, and viral hepatitis. Rotavirus is the virus that most often causes diarrhea in children.

Besides viral infections, other causes of diarrhea are:
  • Bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter, Clostridum difficile, E scherichia coli , Salmonella, and Shigella .
  • Parasitic infections, for example G iardia .
  • Food allergy .
  • Foods that contain artificial sweeteners.
  • Fructose intolerance (natural sweetener in honey and fruits) and lactose intolerance (a sugar found in milk and similar products).
  • Post gallstone surgery.
  • Side effects of drugs, such as antibiotics that can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the intestine, cause diarrhea.
In cases of prolonged (chronic) diarrhea, the causative factors include:
  • Inflammation of the digestive tract, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or microscopic colitis.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome .
  • Celiac disease or a disease that causes the body to reject gluten protein.

Diagnosis of Diarrhea

To find out if a patient has diarrhea and what causes it, the doctor will ask about the symptoms, the patient's daily habits, and the history of the disease. If needed, the doctor may take further tests. Among them are blood tests and fecal examination to see if there are bacteria or parasites that cause diarrhea.

If patients complain that they often experience diarrhea after eating certain foods, doctors can suspect that patients experience food intolerance or allergies.

If the cause of diarrhea is still ongoing and the cause is unknown, a colonoscopy can be performed. A colonoscopy is performed to determine the condition of the intestine and identify abnormalities in the large intestine. This inspection procedure uses a device such as a small hose equipped with lights and a camera at the end.

Treatment of Diarrhea

Most cases of diarrhea can recover within a few days without needing treatment. Diarrhea sufferers can apply the following things at home to relieve symptoms:
  • Increase fluid consumption .
    Changing fluid and electrolyte loss is one of the important keys in handling diarrhea. This is also needed to prevent dehydration. The trick is to consume fluids as much as possible, can be water, juice, or broth. In children, administration of ORS is recommended. In infants who are still breastfeeding, the intake of breast milk must always be maintained.
  • Eating the right foods
    When experiencing diarrhea, patients are advised to eat soft foods for several days. Also, avoid foods that are full of fat, fiber, or seasonings. If the bowel condition has improved, replace it with semi-solid food with fiber content gradually increased.
If efforts to handle diarrhea independently have not been successful, then the doctor can give medication to overcome them. Doctors can prescribe antibiotics if diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection.

In addition to antibiotics, doctors can also give drugs that can slow bowel movements, thereby reducing severe diarrhea. Examples of these drugs are loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate . Discuss again with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking anti-diarrhea drugs.

For painkillers, even though they cannot treat diarrhea, the doctor will prescribe it if diarrhea is accompanied by fever and pain. Examples are paracetamol or ibuprofen .

For cases of diarrhea that last long, for example due to inflammation of the intestine , doctors need to deal with the disease first. After the condition of the cause is handled, diarrhea will automatically subside .

Prevention of Diarrhea

Efforts to prevent diarrhea depend on one's discipline in maintaining food and drink cleanliness. By applying clean habits, one can avoid viruses or other microorganisms that can cause diarrhea. It is recommended to:
  • Diligently wash your hands, especially before and after eating, after touching uncooked meat, after from the toilet, or after sneezing and coughing. Clean hands with soap, and rinse with clean water.
  • Eating cooked food. Avoid eating raw fruits or vegetables that are not self-cut.
  • Drink boiled water.

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