Diarrhea, acute or chronic, is one of the most difficult situations and a health problem that needs to be addressed appropriately and directly, as it may have a significant impact on health. But what is defined as diarrhea, when should we worry, and how can we deal with the causes?
What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a pathological symptom that can be caused by many different causes. It is characterized by increased stool moisture, increased intestinal and bowel motility. Diarrhea results from the rapid passage of foods and fluids from the large intestine, making difficult for the body to absorb fluids.
Diarrhea is distinguished in two types, in acute or chronic one:
Acute diarrhea lasts for a few days (up to 2 weeks) and occurs suddenly. It usually recedes without any treatment. It is not a serious situation, but if it is persistent, does not recede or there is blood in the stool then you should contact your doctor.
Chronic layout usually lasts for more than 4 weeks and is usually the symptom of a serious underlying condition. As for children, because the risk of dehydration is too big, you should contact the pediatrician immediately, especially if diarrhea lasts more than 24 hours.
Symptoms may include:
- frequent and loose stools
- severe abdominal pain, cramps
- fever and disability
- weight loss
What causes diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a symptom caused by infections. It may be due, however, to some chronic conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (FND). The most common causes of diarrhea are:
- Infections of parasites and bacteria (gastroenteritis)
- Food or water poisoning
- Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
- Immunodeficiency (AIDS)
- Adverse effects of medication, drugs and dietary supplements (antibiotics, chemotherapy)
- Overconsumption of artificial sweeteners (fructose, sorbitol, mannitol)
- Lactose intolerance
- Traveler’s diarrhea (consumption of local food and water)
Treatment of diarrhea
Most of the time, acute diarrhea subsides after treating the causative factor. The first 24 hours usually you should avoid solid foods and increase liquid foods and beverages in order to ensure hydration of the body. Gradually you can start consuming solid foods, but you should avoid high fiber consumption in the early days.
Avoiding dehydration is the main concern, especially for children and infants. As the intestinal content passages the intestinal tract very quickly, simple water is not enough in order to achieve optimal hydration and compensate fluid losses. Hydration involves electrolyte and glucose solutions. There is a wide variety of dietary supplements with electrolytes and glucose for both children and adults.
Diarrhea is characterized by disrupted gut flora. Taking probiotics helps significantly reduce the intensity of the symptoms and treat diarrhea. It is advisable to prefer strong probiotic formulations, with many strains that certainly contain boulardii, lactobacillus GG, acidophilus or bifidobacteria. People who are immunosuppressed should first talk to their doctor before taking probiotic supplements. Taking probiotic supplements helps prevent diarrhea as they enhance the immunization and protect against pathogenic microorganisms. If you are going to travel, you should start taking probiotics several days before, as well as during your journey.
Glutamine is a key element in the recovery of intestinal mucosa as it is the fuel for the proliferation of intestinal cells. Taking glutamine helps restore bowel, reduce irritation while enhancing body defense system.
People who are intolerant to dairy products should avoid eating dairy products as long as they have diarrhea, in order not to exacerbate diarrhea. It is advisable to take lactase supplements before eating lactose, even if you don’t have lactose intolerance, or more simply just to avoid consumption of lactose.
Psyllium is a soluble plant fiber that helps to increase stool volume. Even though it is mainly used to treat constipation, many studies have shown that it is also helpful for the treatment of mild to moderate diarrhea. Psyllium is derived from the plant Plantago ovata. It has the property of absorbing large amounts of fluids in its molecule and as a result, it can also absorb the intestinal tract fluids and help in the formation of stools.
Diosmectite is a natural molecule, which has the property of absorbing large amounts of fluids giving shape to the stools. It also has anti-inflammatory properties for the intestinal mucosa and absorbs bacteria and enterotoxins that can cause diarrhea. Many studies have shown that taking diosmectite helps reduce the duration of diarrhea and the frequency of bowel motility. It is also safe for children.
In Vita4you you can find a wide range of dietary supplements to treat diarrhea.