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Diarrhea is a condition where one experiences loose or watery stool. It is a very common condition and usually resolves without intervention.

There are many different causes of diarrhea, and it typically goes away on its own in one to three days. An individual with diarrhea often experiences an urgent need to run to the bathroom more frequently than normal. One may also feel bloated, have lower abdominal cramping, and sometimes experience nausea.

Although in many cases diarrhea happens for a fixed amount of time and steady level of severity, sometimes diarrhea can lead to serious complications. It can cause dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance (loss of sodium, potassium, and magnesium) which plays a crucial role in bodily functions. Diarrhea can also cause kidney failure.

Causes of Diarrhea

The cause of self-limited diarrhea is generally not known. However, the most common cause of diarrhea is a virus that infects a person’s bowel. The virus is commonly known as, “viral gastroenteritis”.

Other possible causes of diarrhea may include:

  • Parasitic infections and poisons that have already been generated
  • Infection by bacteria
  • Consumption of foods that upset the digestive system
  • Allergies and intolerances to certain foods
  • Medication
  • Malabsorption of food (poor absorption)
  • Radiation therapy

Symptoms of Diarrhea

Depending on how severe or light a person’s diarrhea is, as well as its underlying cause, one may suffer a variety of symptoms, which include:

  • Nausea
  • An urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Bloating or cramps in the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Blood
  • Vomiting
  • Severe pain

Diagnosis of Diarrhea

Diarrhea that is more severe can need medical treatment. The doctor might prescribe a few diagnostic tests in these circumstances. These tests may include:

  • Talking about the patient’s extensive family history, physical and medical conditions, and any possible sick contacts he/she may have.
  • Conducting a stool test on a collected stool sample to check for blood, bacterial infections, parasites, and inflammatory markers.
  • Checking for bacterial overgrowth and lactose or fructose intolerance using a breath test.
  • Obtaining blood tests to rule out possible medical reasons for diarrhea, such as pancreatic, thyroid, and celiac diseases.
  • An endoscopic evaluation of the patient’s upper and lower digestive tract to rule out organic abnormalities.

Treatment of Diarrhea

Mild and uncomplicated cases of diarrhea can be treated at home by using over-the-counter products. However, an individual will need to see a healthcare provider for treatment if his/her diarrhea is caused by an infection or parasite since over-the-counter medications aren’t always the solution.

The following are some of the treatment options that may be recommended for an individual who has had diarrhea that lasted for a long period of time. The treatments are typically based on the cause.

  • Medication of specific condition: In most cases, diarrhea can be a sign of a variety of medical conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for instance Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, microscopic colitis, or bacterial overgrowth are just a few of medical diseases that can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea is frequently treatable if the underlying reason has been found.
  • Probiotics: In some circumstances, adding probiotics can be beneficial.
  • Antibiotics: To treat an infection or parasite that is causing diarrhea, the doctor may recommend antibiotics or other medications.
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