As per the GOI circular on price capping of Orthopaedic Knee implant by NPPA(National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority), new prices of knee implants have been implemented effective 16th August 2017. For details on knee implant pricing across our hospitals. CLICK HERE | As per GOI’s circular dated 02nd April 2018 on price-capping of stents by NPPA(National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority), new prices of coronary stents are revised with effect from 01st April, 2018. For details on stent pricing.CLICK HERE
Request an Appointment

Diarrhea

Diarrhea describes loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. Diarrhea is something everyone experiences. Diarrhea often means more-frequent trips to the toilet and a greater volume of stool.

In most cases, diarrhea signs and symptoms usually last a couple of days. But sometimes diarrhea can last for weeks. In these situations, diarrhea can be a sign of a serious disorder, such as inflammatory bowel disease, or a less serious condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Symptoms Causes Prevention

Signs and symptoms associated with diarrhea may include:

  • Frequent, loose, watery stools
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Blood in the stool
  • Bloating

When to see a doctor

If you're an adult, see your doctor if:

  • Your diarrhea persists beyond two days
  • You become dehydrated — as evidenced by excessive thirst, dry mouth or skin, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness, or dark-colored urine
  • You have severe abdominal or rectal pain
  • You have bloody or black stools
  • You have a fever above 102 F (39 C)

In children, particularly young children, diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration. Call your doctor if your child's diarrhea doesn't improve within 24 hours or if your baby:

  • Hasn't had a wet diaper in three or more hours
  • Has a fever above 102 F (39 C)
  • Has bloody or black stools
  • Has a dry mouth or cries without tears
  • Is unusually sleepy, drowsy, unresponsive or irritable
  • Has a sunken appearance to the abdomen, eyes or cheeks
  • Has skin that doesn't flatten if pinched and released

Diarrhea occurs when the food and fluids you ingest pass too quickly or in too large an amount — or both — through your colon. Normally, your colon absorbs liquids from the food you eat, leaving a semisolid stool. But if the liquids from the foods you eat aren't absorbed, the result is a watery bowel movement.

A number of diseases and conditions can cause diarrhea. Common causes of diarrhea include:

  • Viruses. Viruses that can cause diarrhea include Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis. Rotavirus is a common cause of acute childhood diarrhea.
  • Bacteria and parasites. Contaminated food or water can transmit bacteria and parasites to your body. Parasites such as Giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium can cause diarrhea.

    Common bacterial causes of diarrhea include campylobacter, salmonella, shigella and Escherichia coli. Diarrhea caused by bacteria and parasites can be common when traveling in developing countries and is often called traveler's diarrhea.

  • Medications. Many medications can cause diarrhea. The most common are antibiotics. Antibiotics destroy both good and bad bacteria, which can disturb the natural balance of bacteria in your intestines. This disturbance sometimes leads to an infection with bacteria called Clostridium difficile, which also can cause diarrhea.
  • Lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Many people have difficulty digesting lactose and experience diarrhea after eating dairy products.

    Your body makes an enzyme that helps digest lactose, but for most people, the levels of this enzyme drop off rapidly after childhood. This causes an increased risk of lactose intolerance as you age.

  • Fructose. Fructose, a sugar found naturally in fruits and honey and added as a sweetener to some beverages, can cause diarrhea in people who have trouble digesting it.
  • Artificial sweeteners. Sorbitol and mannitol, artificial sweeteners found in chewing gum and other sugar-free products, can cause diarrhea in some otherwise healthy people.
  • Surgery. Some people may experience diarrhea after undergoing abdominal surgery or gallbladder removal surgery.
  • Other digestive disorders. Chronic diarrhea has a number of other causes, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, microscopic colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Preventing viral diarrhea

Wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of viral diarrhea. To ensure you or your child is washing your hands thoroughly, always:

  • Wash frequently. Wash your hands before and after preparing food. In addition, wash your hands after handling uncooked meat, using the toilet, changing diapers, sneezing, coughing and blowing your nose.
  • Lather with soap for at least 20 seconds. After putting soap on your hands, rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. This is about as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice through.
  • Use hand sanitizer when washing isn't possible. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you can't get to a sink. Apply the hand sanitizer as you would hand lotion, making sure to completely cover the fronts and backs of both hands. Use a product that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Preventing diarrhea from contaminated food

To guard against diarrhea caused by contaminated food:

  • Serve food right away or refrigerate it after it has been cooked or reheated. Leaving food out at room temperature can encourage growth of bacteria.
  • Wash work surfaces frequently to avoid spreading germs from one food item to another. Wash your hands and your work surfaces several times during food preparation.
  • Use the refrigerator to thaw frozen items. Or try putting plastic-wrapped frozen items in a bowl of cold water to thaw. Don't leave frozen items on the counter to thaw.

Preventing traveler's diarrhea

Diarrhea commonly affects people who travel to countries where inadequate sanitation and contaminated food and water are encountered. To reduce your risk:

  • Watch what you eat. Eat hot, well-cooked foods. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself. Also avoid raw or undercooked meats and dairy foods.
  • Watch what you drink. Drink bottled water, soda, beer or wine served in its original container. Avoid tap water and ice cubes. Use bottled water even for brushing your teeth. Keep your mouth closed while you shower. Beverages from boiled water, such as coffee and tea, are probably safe. Remember that alcohol and caffeine can aggravate diarrhea and dehydration.
  • Ask your doctor about using antibiotics. If you're traveling to a developing country for an extended period of time, ask your doctor about starting antibiotics before you leave on your trip. In certain cases, this may reduce the risk that you'll develop traveler's diarrhea.
  • Check for travel warnings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a travelers' health website where disease warnings are posted for foreign countries. If you're planning to travel outside of the United States, check there for warnings and tips for reducing your risk.
© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use