Diseases & Conditions


DiarrheaCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Diarrhea?

When a person suffers from loose bowel movements for more than two to three times a day, then it is termed as diarrhea. Because of the loss of fluids from the body, it results in dehydration. This in turn causes tiredness and when left untreated can lead to death in some cases. It is one of the major causes of loss of life in many of the developing third world countries.

Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea can occur both due to imbalance of enzymes in the large and small intestines and due to the structural damage to the bowels by harmful invading microbes. Whether it is active secretion or lack of absorption, results of mal digestion or rapid movement of food through the intestinal tract, the resulting lack of nutrient absorption can result in diarrhea with varied symptoms and severity.

The causative agents for such conditions to occur within the human body can be viral, bacterial or parasitical in nature, with adenovirus type 40 and 41, astrovirus, salmonella, shigallae and guardia being the primary culprits of loose stools.

Medication for Diarrhea

The medications for diarrhea involve various absorbents. The two main absorbents are attapulgite and polycarbophil, and they are both available without prescriptions.

Examples of products containing attapulgite are:

  • Donnagel,
  • Rheaban,
  • Kaopectate Advanced Formula,
  • Parepectolin, and
  • Diasorb.

Examples of products containing polycarbophil are:

  • Equalactin,
  • Konsyl Fiber,
  • Mitrolan, and
  • Polycarb.

The shorter and acute form of loose motion does not require administration of antibiotics; they are not necessary for bacterial infections of this form. However, the use of antibiotics requires one of the following conditions to be satisfied for its justification.

  • If the severity and persistence of the disease is high
  • The condition of the patient is defined by additional diseases like lung disease, AIDS and heart problems.
  • In case of a parasite attack in the intestinal column.
  • In case of a traveler’s diarrhea condition.

Prevention of Diarrhea

The very common preventer for diarrhea is cleanliness. Taking quality food and quality water can keep people away from diarrhea. People can avoid junk-food in unhygienic centres. Thus diarrhea is a preventable disease.

Risk Factors of Diarrhea

Usually, people who consume too much junk food or unhealthy food are exposed to the risks of loose stools. The risk factors for people who are affected by diarrhea are many fold with the body unable to recuperate from rapid fluid loss.

Symptoms of Diarrhea

The major symptom of the disease is stomach pain and having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day.

Treatment for Diarrhea

Absorbents are mostly used for the treatment of diarrhea since they absorb most of the liquid content. The effect of absorbents is to combine the water in the small intestine and colon and reduce the water content of the diarrheal feces. In effect, some absorbents combine the toxic chemicals in the small intestine to help alleviate the urge to pass feces. The fluid-producing capacity of the small intestine is reduced; this helps treat the disease.

Types of Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be classified based on the severity and the variety of symptoms that it creates in people. Some of the common types of loose motion are:

  • Acute Diarrhea
  • Chronic Diarrhea - with various subtypes like secretory, osmotic and inflammatory diarrhea.

Some of the rarer types of diarrhea include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic Inflammatory diarrhea
  • Chronic Inflammatory diarrhea