LiveMD gives you the facts on keeping your family safe during a bout of diarrhea
What is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is quite common and is something that most people will experience at some time in their lives. Although usually not a serious problem, Diarrhea can lead to dangerous consequences in severe situations if not properly treated. Diarrhea is characterized by very loose, watery stools, stomach cramps and the urgent need to use the washroom.
What Causes Diarrhea?
Diarrhea can be caused by numerous different things, some minor and some very severe. Certain food allergies or intolerances to certain foods, such as being lactose intolerant, can cause diarrhea to occur. The body is unable to process the food and it is therefore quickly excreted. Reactions to a medication can also cause can loose stools to occur as they may irritate the stomach or intestines. The most common causes of diarrhea however, are infections from viruses, bacteria or parasites. When these germs are ingested through contaminated food or water they can cause stomach upset, abdominal cramps and have you running to the toilet.
What is the Best Treatment for Diarrhea?
In most cases, diarrhea itself is not a severe health issue, the problem comes when diarrhea is excessive. This can lead to dehydration and if untreated could result in death. Diarrhea can deplete the body of its water supply so the best treatment is to quickly rehydrate and replenish the body’s electrolytes. Electrolytes are the minerals that are present in our body’s water supply and are very important for good health. If we become dehydrated we lose these important minerals. Rehydration with sports drinks is a great way to replenish our water supply and electrolytes but if this is not possible then water and juices will also help with rehydration.
If the diarrhea is persistent and severe or if the patient exhibits signs of fever or seems extremely unwell, then it is time to visit a doctor. Often antibiotics may be required to fight off any bacterial infections or it may be a more serious condition, requiring medical attention.
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