Diarrhea Treatment

Diarrhea is typically dismissed as a minor concern, usually, lasting only a few days. However, in some cases it may last much longer and be a sign of a more serious underlying problem. It is important that you know what symptoms to watch out for and understand when to seek treatment for this condition.

A guy about to site on a cactus. Simulating the pain of a hemorrhoid.
Diarrhea Treatment in Victoria, TX

What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a very loose bowel movement that may even seem like water. Also, people with diarrhea will use the bathroom more than usual and that their bathroom needs are quite urgent.

This problem is classified as either acute or chronic. Acute diarrhea typically only lasts for a day to a week. It could indicate a short-lasting bacterial or viral infection or perhaps even a case of food poisoning. On the other hand, chronic diarrhea lasts for at least four weeks and is usually tied to another underlying cause.

Someone holding their butt from the pain of a hemorrhoid.

What Are The Common Symptoms?

Those with diarrhea may find it difficult to continue on with their usual daily routines because they cannot be far from the bathroom. Frequency and urgency of bowel needs may be combined with abdominal cramps or discomfort, making the individual far more content to rest in bed than to head to work.

In some cases, individuals may feel gassy and bloated or may feel nauseated along with having loose stools. Some may find that they have mucus or blood in their stools, which could indicate a far more concerning problem. Over time, persistent diarrhea could also lead to uncomfortable skin breakdown around the anus and dehydration.

Causes and Risk Factors

Acute diarrhea is most frequently caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. For example, rotavirus, cytomegalovirus, Clostridium difficile and the Norwalk virus are common causes for diarrhea in children and adults. Traveler’s diarrhea is another somewhat common concern that can pop up in those visiting developing countries if they are drinking untreated water containing parasites.

However, diarrhea may also have a host of other causes, including the following:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Antibiotics
  • Antacids
  • Cancer drugs
  • Gallbladder surgery
  • Inflammatory bowel disorder, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome

Diagnosis of Severe Diarrhea

Diagnosis for acute cases of diarrhea is frequently completed with a simple medical history and physical assessment. However, in certain cases of more severe diarrhea, a physician may order a blood test, stool sample or even a colonoscopy. These tests may show if food allergies, bacteria, parasites or structural abnormalities in the colon could be to blame.

How is Diarrhea Treated?

Those who have diarrhea lasting more than a week or who experience blood in their stools, dehydration, unexpected weight loss or a very high fever along with the diarrhea should seek medical help. Dehydration can be treated with electrolyte replacing beverages or with an intravenous drip in more severe cases. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections or other medications to manage short-term diarrhea.

It is most important to treat the underlying cause of the diarrhea. For example, diagnosing and treating an inflammatory bowel disease will get symptoms, including diarrhea, under control. Medications may need to be adjusted or foods may need to be eliminated from the diet before chronic diarrhea will come under good control.

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