Remember those frequent visits to the loo? Painful, cramping stomach ache? Unforgettable experience that causes not only a grave discomfort, but also results in biological abnormality or loss of electrolytes! Diarrhea it is! A disorder that occurs due to passing loose watery stools or repeated bowel movement; and at times accompanied with extreme fluid loss termed as Dehydration. Most often these conditions are the after effects of contaminated food or water intake (containing bacteria or parasite) gravely categorised to food poisoning or waterborne, diseases respectively.
Loose motion-A washroom nightmare!
Diarrhea is the second most common illness affecting the adult population; and is also one of the drastic illnesses observed in children below the age of 5, which has become a traumatic cause of infant death. It gives us more the intense reason to find out what causes diarrhea and why the body reacts in a way posing severe discomfort and loss of energy.
Food and fluids consumed go through a series of digestive procedures breaking down the food into molecular components (nutrients as we call it); ultimately reaching the gut and the intestine wherein all the food fluids are absorbed leaving behind, the semisolid stool to leave the body via bowel movement. It is this absorption process gone faulty wherein food fluids do not get absorbed, resulting into watery bowel movement. There are a number of causes that bring about absorptional malfunction which we will go through below.
Parasites - Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium are tiny parasites which when accidentally come in contact with the gut flora result in watery bowel movement
Bacteria - E.coli and Salmonella, most commonly found in regions of contaminated water bodies, are bacteria that infect the intestines and cause diarrhea, fever and abdo minal cramps.
Lactose intolerance - Some individuals cannot break down the lactose obtained from food and fluids, thus causing nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea; sometimes resulting into celiac disease (chronic diarrhea condition)
Artificial sweeteners - Present mainly in chewing gums and sugar-free products can cause diarrhea in otherwise healthy individuals.
Apart from these varied short-term conditions, abdominal surgery (gall bladder removal surgery), Crohn's disease (chronic inflammation of the intestine), ulcerative colitis (Inflammatory Bowel Diseases), irritable bowel syndrome, etc. are responsible for chronic/long-term diarrhea.
Fluid loss - A Tag along
Water is an irreplaceable solvent for survival; any fluctuations in its levels in the body will change the fluid composition, bringing about negative fluid balance. Clinical manifestation of dehydration is closely related to decrease in the volume of blood circulating in body. The condition can ultimately lead to hypovolemic shock (severe blood and fluid loss) resulting in organ failure and death.
People lose water everyday (along with salts) in the form of water vapour while exhaling and also excreted via sweat, urine and stool. Dry mouth, dizziness, palpitations, sluggish behaviour, fainting and inability to sweat are some of the most common symptoms of fluid loss. Diarrhea can be accounted as one of the major reasons for dehydration, but the list does not end there! A terrible condition of not having access to safe drinking water too can be reckoned as a major calamity; other maladies include urinary infection, heat exposure, strenuous exercise, Diabetes, etc.
How to Cope with Diarrhea and Dehydration?
Most diarrhea and dehydration issues get sorted within a week's time without treatment. Coping with them is based on lifestyle changes and home remedies (preventive measures), which are more preferred than physician's recommended medication .