Diarrhoea is the passing of frequent, watery stools. The normal faeces is solid in consistency but moist and easy to pass ffatigueGIT.
Normal bowel openings range from 1-3 times per day depending on the individual. But when there is diarrhoea the stool becomes watery or semi-solid and the frequency is also increased to more than 3 per day.
Types Diarrhoea is divided into Acute and Chronic diarrhoea.
1. Acute diarrhoea
Acute diarrhoea lasts only for few days and clears up and it is usually not serious. Acute diarrhoea can however be serious in children and the elderly because of their fragile nature.
2. Chronic diarrhoea
Chronic diarrhoea can last for weeks and is usually indicative of an underlying problem. The cause should therefore be investigated and treated accordingly.
Incidence Diarrhoea affects all ages, but it is commoner among babies who are fed with artificial milk.
Mode of transmission Diarrhoea is spread through the oro-faecal route. It can be spread through ingestion of foods and water contaminated by the faecal matter of someone who has diarrhoea (especially if caused by bacteria or viruses).
Infective organisms can be deposited on ones food by housefly where there is no proper hygiene.
The Causes of Diarrhoea
1. Infection: Infection by bacteria such as Salmonella Typhimurium, E. coli, or viruses such as Herpes Simplex and hepatitis virus can cause diarrhoea.
2. Laxatives: Laxatives produce increase in peristalsis thereby bringing about diarrhoea.
3. Chemicals: Ingestion of certain chemicals can lead to diarrhoea e.g. Lead (found in toys and paints)
4. Antibiotics: The use of antibiotics for the treatment of other diseases can produce diarrhoea as a side effect.
5. Food: Food that has excessive roughage can also increase peristalsis and lead to diarrhoea. Vegetables and fruits when consumed in high quantity can particularly produce diarrhoea.
6. Anxiety: Anxiety or emotional stress increases adrenaline discharge into the blood stream. This in turn speeds up metabolic processes and increases peristalsis. This leads to diarrhoea.
7. Other causes of diarrhoea include excessive alcohol, coffee, sweets and spicy foods.
8. Worm infestation
9. Irritable bowel syndrome
10. Bowel cancer.
Signs and symptoms
Passage of frequent, watery stool, Nausea or vomiting, Anorexia, Abdominal cramps/pain, Bloated tummy, Headache, Fever, Sunken eyes/fontanelles in children, Thirst, Dryness of the tongue, lips and mucous membranes, Concentrated and scanty urine, Weakness/fatigue
Treatment of diarrhoea
The most important aspect of the treatment of diarrhoea is the replacement of fluids and salts that have been lost from the body. For most adults, non-carbonated, non-alcoholic drinks that do not contain large amounts of sugar are quite adequate.
For adults with prolonged diarrhoea and for children, it is more important to use balanced weak salt solutions which contain a small amount of sugar that promotes absorption of the salts. These can be obtained in pre-packaged sachets of powder, such as Dioralyte, and Rehidrat, that are convenient to carry and are dissolved in a fixed amount of sterile water.
Other than rehydration solutions, It is recommended to purchase medicines for diarrhoea from pharmacies or chemists.