Diarrhea develops from bacterial imbalances in the digestive flora of the stomach and the colon, causing painful bloating, loose bowels, stomach cramping, and dehydration.
When the delicate balance of bacteria in the digestive system is disrupted, inflammation in the lining of the colon can quickly exacerbate illness. Colon and stomach irritation also accompany serious illnesses such as Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Diverticulosis. Despite these debilitating and dangerous symptoms, it is often ignored as an uncomfortable or embarrassing situation that works itself out, eventually. Without proper treatment, diarrhea symptoms can be potentially dangerous.
Symptoms and Signs
When someone is ill it can be difficult to determine whether a symptom is a sign of a more serious condition. A symptom describes what a person is feeling, e.g. an upset stomach. A sign is a condition that is measurable such as a fever. Since seasonal illness and food allergies can cause bouts of painful, loose bowels, it is important to view symptoms and signs globally. Take notice of the frequency, duration and severity of the symptoms. Common Diarrhea Symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramping and pain. Common signs of excessive diarrhea include thirst, dry mouth and skin, frequent, loose or watery feces, dehydration and fever. Some individuals may notice blood in their stool, severe bloating and gas pain. If diarrhea symptoms continue beyond three days, contact a doctor. Another serious sign of this illness is dehydration. Thirst, inability to urinate, dizziness or weakness as well as dry mouth and dry skin are all symptoms and signs of dehydration. Bloody or black feces can also occur with frequent, loose bowels and prolonged diarrhea. Moreover, any individual with a fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit, should seek immediate medical attention.
When food or liquid passes through the body, quickly, the colon does not have time to digest these products, which results in watery and loose bowels. The digestive system also alerts the body to danger by attempting to eliminate the threat of illness from foreign substances, quickly, through loose bowels. Some common causes of diarrhea symptoms include food or illness borne bacteria and parasites. Foods prepared in unhygienic conditions, contaminated water and raw seafood can carry campylobacter, Escherichia coli, salmonella and other bacteria that irritate and disrupt digestive flora. Some individuals experience diarrhea symptoms from an inability to the lactose in milk, ice cream and dairy products. Other individuals are unable to digest artificial sweetening agents such as sucralose and aspartame and even natural sugars such as fructose and glucose. Bacteria and parasites cause diarrhea as a protective response to prevent debilitating illness. People with sensitive stomachs may have loose feces from taking medications on an empty stomach. Gallbladder surgery and consequent removal allows bile salts from digestion to flow into the colon increasing watery and loose stools. Serious illness, however, such as Crohn's Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome and Ulcerative Colitis all include diarrhea in their etiology.
Common home remedies for infrequent diarrhea symptoms or loose bowels include flushing the body with clear liquids and broth, eating only rice, chicken, toast, eggs and crackers, over the counter anti-diarrhea medicines and avoiding fatty or fried foods until the symptoms pass. It is important to avoid apple and pear juice, caffeine and alcohol as these substance can make diarrhea symptoms worse. For treatment of frequent loose bowels lasting longer than three days, an individual will require a thorough examination by a physician. Frequent and lasting diarrhea requires blood tests, stools samples and additional tests such as a digestive, colon or rectal examinations. To deter dehydration the doctor will recommend replacing fluids lost during excessive evacuation, with water, juice, broth or drinks containing salts and potassium to balance the body's electrolytes. Electrolyte imbalances can lead to serious heart and breathing conditions. In addition, treatment can include antibiotics to kill viruses or parasites. Probiotics supplements such as acidophilus, found in yogurt, can increase healthy digestive flora lost during illness. A physician may recommend daily doses of this additional good bacteria to help heal irritation and inflammation of the colon. Washing hands after using the facilities, cooking foods at recommended temperatures and paying attention to food preparation when eating at restaurants will reduce the likelihood of these painful and debilitating diarrhea symptoms.