Diarrhea is the medical condition characterized by at least three loose or liquid bowel movements each day. It usually lasts for a few days and can lead to dehydration secondary to fluid deficit. The condition may occur once or twice a year in many people and presence of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome is a contributing factor.
Diarrhea may be divided into three types: acute water diarrhea, acute bloody diarrhea, and persistent or chronic diarrhea. Acute diarrhea, which is short in duration, usually last within two weeks. If it persists for more than two weeks, then it is called persistent or chronic diarrhea. Diarrhea is also known as dysentery if blood is present.
Diarrhea is caused by infection, which can be bacterial, viral, and parasitic, according to Medicine Net. Such infections are usually obtained from contaminated food or water, either from stool or directly from another person who is infected. Aside from infection, bacteria can also cause acute food poisoning while new medications can also cause diarrhea.
According to Web MD, the usual symptoms of diarrhea include an urgent feeling that one needs to go to the comfort room for bowel movement, watery stool, thin or loose stools, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramping and a bloated feeling. Diarrhea is also attached to more serious symptoms, such as fever, weight loss, and presence of mucus, undigested food, or blood in the stool.
According to National Library of Medicine, diarrhea can be managed through fluid management. It is advised to drink eight to ten glasses of clear fluids daily, with water as the primary type of fluid recommended. In addition, one should drink at least one cup of liquid every time one had a loose bowel movement.
Diarrhea can also be managed through food and nutrition. According to National Library of Medicine, one should eat high potassium foods like bananas, potatoes, and fruit juices. In his interview with Everyday Health, University of Michigan Health System department of internal medicine gastroenterology assistant professor Peter Higgins said that it was best to east thicker, bland foods, including bananas, oatmeal, plain rice, and applesauce. Several bland foods one can also include in their diet are baked chicken without skin and fat, pretzels, plain crackers, and toast.
Medical health professionals also suggest the BRAT diet as nutritional management for diarrhea. According to Family Doctor, BRAT is an acronym that stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. It is a bland food diet that it often suggested for both adults and children. The foods in the list can aid one recuperate from an upset stomach or diarrhea, as they contain low amount of fiber while making one’s stools firmer. Banana is also rich in potassium, replacing the lost ones due to diarrhea or vomiting. The BRAT diet can help the body return to normal eating, following a diarrhea or vomiting. This kind of diet can also help alleviate the nausea and vomiting in pregnant women.
Yogurt can also be added to the list of foods one can eat if he has diarrhea. In his statement in Live Strong, Harvard Health Publications chief medical director Dr. Howard LeWine said that probiotic yogurt might aid in the alleviation or prevention of loose bowel movement. He added that yogurt may reintroduce beneficial bacteria and microorganisms in the intestines that help regulate stools. It can be consumed with a teaspoon or other small amount of yogurt to check for tolerability prior to consuming a full serving.
Diarrhea may lead to dehydration due to fluid loss secondary to its pathophysiology. If warning signs, such as presence of blood or pus in the stool, reduced urination, extreme thirst, dry mouth, listlessness, and lethargy, are present, one should seek immediate medical attention.