What Causes Diarrhea? – The Most Common Causes Explained
Diarrhea is one of the most common health problems, and it can be caused by many different things.
Knowing what causes diarrhea in adults and children alike is numerous and can range from mild to severe. Thankfully, there are several ways that you can prevent this condition before it occurs.
This article will cover what causes diarrhea in order to help you better understand how to avoid this uncomfortable situation when possible.
There are several ways that you can contract diarrhea. Here we list several of them:
• Infections caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasite. The four most common viruses that cause acute diarrhea are rotavirus, Norwalk virus, enteric adenoviruses, and astrovirus. Infection with any one of these viruses causes an estimated 5 million cases of diarrhea in children <5 years old each year. 1
• Travelling to new areas. Infection with bacteria, viruses, or parasites picked up while traveling outside your home country.
• Food poisoning. This is the most common cause of acute diarrhea among people traveling to foreign countries and occurs because food handlers may not follow proper procedures to prevent contamination of food by spoiled foods, parasites, or organisms that could make people sick.
• Contamination. Travelers’ diarrhea is usually caused by bacteria in food and water contaminated with feces (poop). Bacteria causing travelers’ diarrhea can be acquired when eating raw fruits and vegetables that have not been washed, drinking unclean water, or eating food prepared by infected food handlers.
• IBS. This is the most common intestinal disorder in the United States and the UK. Symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation with no known cause. It can have a major impact on quality of life by affecting normal daily activities including work, school, social events, or traveling away from home.
• Gluten intolerance. This is an abnormal immune response to gliadin, one of the protein fractions of gluten. This causes inflammation in the small intestine which gives rise to a host of symptoms that mimic irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
• Lactose intolerance. This occurs when someone lacks enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugar found in milk products. To avoid the discomfort of gas and diarrhea, people who lack lactase should drink milk products that contain lactose only in very small amounts. • Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines that can affect any part of the digestive tract from mouth to anus. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, and diarrhea.
• Chronic diarrhea. This can be caused by any one of a number of disorders. This is why it’s important to see your doctor for a thorough examination, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment after you’ve had diarrhea for more than a week.
To help prevent infectious diarrhea (often caused by viruses or bacteria), follow these prevention tips:
• Wash your hands. If you are traveling outside the U.S., wash your hands with soap and clean water more often, especially after going to the bathroom, eating or drinking, and before handling food.
• Drink bottled or boiled water. All drinks, including soda pop and alcoholic beverages, should be either bottled or boiled when traveling outside the U.S.
• Eat freshly cooked, hot food. Avoid any uncooked fruits or vegetables unless you wash them with clean, safe water first. Also, avoid any food that may have been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours.
• Wear appropriate footwear. Prevent sewage contamination by wearing shoes. If you can’t, change your shoes after visiting bathrooms or playing in or near contaminated areas.
• Carry extra medication. Always carry an extra supply of any prescription medications you take to treat diarrhea and bring along an antidiarrheal medication, such as Imodium (loperamide), that can reduce the number of loose bowel movements to 3 or 4 per day and help control watery diarrhea.
• Seek medical advice. Check with your doctor before taking antidiarrheal medications, as they may reduce the effectiveness of oral rehydration products such as Pedialyte or Oralyte.
There are many reasons why someone might suffer from diarrhea. It is important to know the causes and symptoms of this condition, as well as how to prevent it.
The most important thing to remember if experiencing diarrhea is that dehydration can be a serious risk so make sure you stay well-hydrated while limiting your intake of dairy products.
Drink plenty of fluids, stick to bland foods and seek medical help if diarrhea persists for more than two days.
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