Diarrhea: Causes and Symptoms

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Diarrhea: Causes and Symptoms

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Diarrhea is one of the most common physical health conditions across the globe. In fact, approximately two billion cases of diarrhea occur around the world every year. However, that’s not all. The condition is also considered the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 in developing countries.

Though it can be treated at home, it’s wise to consult a doctor for prescription drugs if you’re concerned about the condition.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a medical condition that causes your stool to become loose and watery. It’s not uncommon for people to get diarrhea once or twice a year.

Acute diarrhea lasts a couple of days, but chronic diarrhea may last up to 4 weeks.

Causes of Diarrhea

Many conditions and circumstances can cause symptoms of diarrhea. The following are the most common causes of diarrhea.

  1. Viral infection in the gastrointestinal tract, such as norovirus, rotavirus, and viral gastroenteritis.
  2. Bacterial infections, like E. coli and salmonella.
  3. Parasitic infections
  4. Intestinal diseases
  5. Adverse side effects of any medicine
  6. Food intolerances, notably lactose intolerance.
  7. Gallbladder surgery

Rotavirus is known to be the most common cause of diarrhea globally. In the United States, most cases of diarrhea are the result of food poisoning from coming into contact with contaminated food. In fact, approximately 40 million cases of diarrhea in America are caused due to food contamination.

There are other cases of diarrhea called “functional diarrhea.” These occur when all digestive organs appear normal but aren’t working optimally. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common cause of functional diarrhea in the United States.

Symptoms of Diarrhea

It’s not uncommon to experience one or more symptoms of diarrhea at the same time. Following are the most common symptoms of diarrhea:

  1. Frequent, watery stools
  2. Nausea
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Bloating
  5. Cramping
  6. Dehydration
  7. Frequent urge to empty your bowels.

Finally, diarrhea can also come with other symptoms that can signify more serious conditions. These include:

  1. Blood in stool
  2. Dehydration
  3. Persistent vomiting
  4. Pus in stool

It’s essential you consult a medical provider if you have any of the above symptoms. Additionally, with dehydration, you’re likely to experience the following symptoms:

  1. Dry mucus membrane
  2. Fatigue
  3. Faster heartbeat
  4. Feeling more thirsty
  5. Headaches
  6. Lightheadedness
  7. Less frequent urine

Potentially serious complications of diarrhea can occur in cases of severe and frequent diarrhea or chronic diarrhea. The patient may likely experience dehydration or malabsorption.


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