Diarrhea is said to be when the stool becomes unusually thin and the urge to use the toilet is frequent, usually at least three times a day. In most cases, diarrhea resolves without the intervention of doctors within a few days or less, and its cause remains unspecified.
The causes of diarrhea are varied. These are usually viral or bacterial infections, food intolerances, but alcohol abuse, antibiotics or certain other medications, stress and other factors can cause it.
Do I need to see a doctor for diarrhea?
Usually, diarrhea does not cause significant damage to the body – you can stay at home and heal yourself. You need to seek medical help in the following cases:
- When signs of dehydration appear. These include thirst, dark urine, dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, low urine volume, and infrequent urge to urinate.
- If an adult does not stop diarrhea for more than two days (for a child – a day) or the number of trips to the toilet exceeds 6 per day. Diarrhea is accompanied by severe abdominal or rectal pain.
- At a body temperature above 38.5 degrees.
- There is blood or mucus in the stool.
- Stools are black, tarry, or bloody.
What to do with diarrhea?
Drink plenty of fluids
For mild diarrhea, this is the main treatment. With diarrhea, a person loses a lot of water, this must be compensated for, it is necessary to prevent dehydration. It is better to replenish the loss of fluid not with plain water, but with solutions containing salt and glucose – this helps to retain fluid in the body. In pharmacies, special powders are sold, from which it is easy to prepare a drink to restore the water-salt balance. Another, less effective, option is to drink diluted natural juice with salted crackers. It is better not to consume coffee and carbonated drinks.
The US National Institutes of Health recommends drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day and a cup of fluids after each bowel movement.
If you are severely dehydrated, professional help is needed: intravenous fluids may be needed.
In the absence of appetite with diarrhea, preference is given to liquids, while cooked vegetables (primarily starchy, for example, potatoes and zucchini), pasta, cereals (rice, wheat, oats), soups, white bread are well suited for food. You need to add salt to food. Additionally, you can eat salty crackers, bananas. It is better to eat fractionally – more than three times a day, in small portions.
Take medication if necessary
There are over-the-counter medications to stop diarrhea (such as loperamide). They affect not the cause of the problem, but its mechanisms, inhibit the movement of the intestines. They should not be used if the body temperature exceeds 38 degrees or blood appears in the stool.
Antibacterial drugs are often not required for diarrhea; in some cases, they can worsen its course. They can be recommended in case of frequent (more than eight times a day) urge, dehydration, persistence of symptoms for more than a week, with weakened immunity and during hospital treatment. The decision on their appointment is made by the doctor.
Do not spread the infection!
Since diarrhea is more often caused by infection, care must be taken to prevent it from being passed on to others. This requires:
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Wash clothing and bed linen contaminated with faeces or vomit separately from other items in hot water.
- Wash the toilet seat, faucet handles, doorknobs and surfaces daily.
Do not do it:
- Cooking food for other people (if possible).
- Let other people use their personal belongings (towels, dishes, etc.).
- Use the pool for two weeks after the diarrhea has stopped.