What are the treatments for frequent diarrhea
Diarrhea: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of Intestinal Disease
Anyone who has liquid stools and has to go to the toilet more than three times a day has diarrhea. This is particularly annoying when there is nausea and vomiting. Often, infections by bacteria or viruses are behind it. But stress or serious illnesses can also lead to diarrhea. Read here what causes diarrhea can have.
Initially, diarrhea is nothing more than a sensible protective reaction by the body. The intestine tries to get rid of toxins and pathogens as quickly as possible, which interfere with its self-cleansing. This process is often accompanied by nausea, gas and abdominal cramps.
Diarrhea: knowing the causes and treating them properly
With severe, long-lasting diarrhea, there is a risk that the body will lose too much water and electrolytes (minerals) and dry out. It is therefore important to ensure that you have sufficient fluids and to drink plenty of fluids.
The successful treatment of a diarrheal disease requires that one knows its causes. Doctors differentiate between acute (up to two weeks) and chronic diarrhea, which often conceals serious illnesses.
Causes of Acute Diarrhea
Acute diarrhea that sets in suddenly is usually due to an infection with pathogens. After two weeks at the latest, the stool has usually solidified again and the stomach and intestines function as usual.
Possible reasons for acute diarrhea are:
- Infection by bacteria (E. coli, salmonella, listeria, shigella, staphylococci and streptococci)
- Virus infection (noroviruses, rotaviruses)
- Medication (antibiotics, laxatives)
- Parasites (e.g. amoeba)
- Poisoning (poisonous mushrooms, chemicals)
- Anxiety and stress
Causes of Chronic Diarrhea
Persistent or chronic diarrhea is typical of persisting for more than two weeks and recurring regularly. In the case of permanent diarrhea, various, sometimes serious diseases can be considered as the cause:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn's disease
- Tumors and polyps
- Hormonal imbalances or thyroid disorders
- Gallbladder or pancreas disorders
- Inflammation of the stomach lining
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Inflammation of the bowel diverticula (diverticulitis)
- Cystic fibrosis
- chronic colon inflammation (ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis)
- Food allergies
- Food intolerance (celiac disease, gluten intolerance, wheat intolerance and lactose intolerance)
- Taking the pill
Bowel disease as a cause of chronic diarrhea
Inflammation of the intestinal diverticula (acute diverticulitis) can lead to chronic diarrhea. These are bulges in the intestinal mucosa in the area of the large intestine. When bowel diverticula become inflamed, severe discomfort can occur, including abdominal pain, fever, constipation, gas, and diarrhea. The stool can be bloody or slimy.
Chronic circulatory disorders in the intestine (ischemic colitis) can also be accompanied by diarrhea. If there are ulcers, the diarrhea is often bloody. Last but not least, tumors in the intestine that originate in the mucous membrane are also possible with chronic diarrhea. There are benign and malignant forms. If a tumor constricts the colon, the bacteria process the stool until it becomes liquid and can pass through. Diarrhea that alternates with constipation, on the other hand, can be an indication of rectal cancer. A cancer diagnosis is usually made through a colonoscopy.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Long-lasting diarrhea and abdominal cramps can also hide Crohn's disease. This disease affects the entire digestive tract and, like ulcerative colitis, manifests itself as a chronic inflammation of the large intestine. Frequent, recurring diarrhea with blood and mucus in the stool and pain in the left upper abdomen are typical. Chronic diarrhea can also be the result of inflammation of the pancreas. In the process, the patients usually lose a lot of weight. Since the causes of chronic diarrhea can be very different, it is very important to get clarification from your doctor.
Morning diarrhea: it can be irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome can be the cause of chronic diarrhea, which preferably occurs in the morning after getting up. Mostly there are complaints such as cramps in the stomach, bloating and flatulence. However, those affected can suffer from various irritable bowel symptoms of varying intensity. For some, diarrhea is the dominant symptom, for others it is flatulence or constipation.
Before the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome can be made, other causes such as food intolerance or chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis should be ruled out by the doctor. Then the irritable bowel triggers should be looked for. Diet, stress, medication, disorders of the intestinal nervous system or infections come into consideration here. Targeted irritable bowel therapy can only be carried out once these triggers are known.
Intestinal infection: diarrhea caused by bacteria
Most acute diarrheal diseases are caused by bacteria. Doctors speak of an acute gastrointestinal infection or gastroenteritis. Poor hygiene is often the reason that the pathogens get into the body. Especially if the diarrhea occurs after a meal, everything indicates an infection from contaminated food.
bacteriathat cause diarrhea can often be found in raw meat, uncooked or unrefrigerated foods, raw milk, but also on fruits and vegetables. Pathogens such as Listeria or Yersinia, which like low temperatures, can even multiply in the refrigerator. Diarrhea caused by spoiled food is often caused by the toxins of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (staphylococci).
Important: If you think you have mushroom poisoning, call a doctor or poison control center and describe your symptoms.
If the pathogens get into the body through food, they attack the intestinal flora. The germs multiply in the intestine and cause a lot of water and mineral salts to be released from the intestinal wall. The result: too much water collects in the intestines and the stool becomes liquid. Some aggressive pathogens also penetrate the intestinal wall and damage it. This can lead to bleeding.
Campylobacter is the most common bacterial intestinal infection
Bacterial diarrheal diseases are most commonly caused by the pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. The bacteria produce toxins that attack the intestinal cells. They enter the body through contaminated food, for example through insufficiently heated poultry meat, raw minced meat or raw milk.
Typical symptoms of Campylobacter infection are severe, watery diarrhea. They can also be bloody and covered in slime. Sometimes fever and vomiting occur. In the further course of the disease, inflammation of the joints, the gall bladder or internal genital organs can even occur.
Traveller's diarrhea is mostly caused by bacteria
It is particularly uncomfortable when one is haunted by "Montezuma's Revenge" on vacation. Usually a bacterial infection (Campylobacter or Coli bacteria) is the cause. Typical symptoms of the so-called travel sickness (travel diarrhea) are sudden diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. They often appear a short time after you eat. You can protect yourself by washing your hands thoroughly, avoiding ice cubes and being careful with uncooked food. Basically, water should only be drunk from bottles and never directly from the tap. Otherwise, stay away from lettuce and fruit, as these may have been washed with contaminated water.
Salmonella infection as a cause of diarrhea
Food poisoning caused by bacteria usually goes away on its own. however, it can also have a severe course of the disease, such as a Salmonella infection. With her, the small intestine becomes inflamed, which leads to strong, watery diarrhea and other complaints. The germs prefer to lurk in raw or not fully cooked meat and poultry products, meat salads, raw eggs, raw milk, mayonnaise, ice cream or in frozen products.
Salmonella poisoning: The symptoms of the disease begin suddenly a few hours to two days after consumption of the contaminated food with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and watery diarrhea. Fever and headache are also common. In severe cases, blood poisoning (sepsis) can occur. Elderly and immunocompromised people are particularly at risk.
A Salmonella infection is generally only treated with antibiotics if the course is severe and in high-risk patients (elderly people, small children or patients with a weak immune system). However, many salmonella species are now resistant to antibiotics.
Listeria can also cause diarrhea
A bacterial food infection by Listeria (Listeria monocytogenes) can also have serious health consequences, especially for people with a weakened immune system and pregnant women. Listeria are mainly found in raw milk products, for example raw milk cheese, also in raw salad with sprouts, in smoked fish and minced meat.
In addition to vomiting and diarrhea, flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue or joint pain are typical of listeriosis. Possible dangerous complications are blood poisoning, meningitis or encephalitis. In most cases, the disease usually goes away on its own. The doctor will prescribe antibiotics if the course is very severe or if those affected have a weakened immune system.
Diarrhea from infection with viruses
In addition to bacteria, viruses can also cause diarrhea and vomiting ("gastrointestinal flu"). The most common are norovirus and rotavirus infections, which are very contagious. Both forms begin with sudden, severe diarrhea and gushing vomiting. When rotavirus infections are common, especially in children, the stool is often mixed with mucus. However, the symptoms usually go away after a few days.
Both types of virus are dangerous for babies, young children, or the elderly because of the high levels of fluid they lose. Hospital treatment is often necessary. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) has recommended vaccination for infants against rotaviruses since 2013.
Acute diarrhea from stress
There is also diarrhea that occurs in stressful situations, such as before exams, visits to the doctor or during a flight. Then the intestinal nerves are upset, causing a temporary disturbance in the digestive tract. A hot water bottle, rest and relaxation exercises help here better than any home remedy for diarrhea. If psychological diarrhea is a regular burden on everyday life, those affected should consult a psychotherapist. There are special therapies that help to deal better with stressful situations.
Heartburn and diarrhea: how are they related?
If diarrhea is accompanied by heartburn, it is usually related to an overproduction of stomach acid. The aggressive hydrochloric acid contained does not only get into the esophagus, but also increasingly into the duodenum. This section of the gastrointestinal tract contains enzymes that are important for digestion. If they are disturbed in their work, gas and diarrhea can result.
Fatty and sugary foods as well as alcoholic and caffeinated stimulants are in the foreground as diarrhea triggers and play an important role in the production of gastric acid. However, some serious illnesses can also lead to an overproduction of gastric acid, such as an infection of the stomach with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Therefore, if heartburn and diarrhea come together frequently and over and over, it is better to see a doctor.
Diagnosis: stool indicates the causes of diarrhea
To clarify the cause of the diarrhea, a doctor's diagnosis in conjunction with a laboratory examination of the stool is usually necessary. From the type and consistency of the diarrhea, conclusions can be drawn as to which area of the intestine is affected. Severe, watery diarrhea that may be frothy and contain undigested food particles suggests inflammation in the small intestine.
If the diarrhea keeps coming back in small amounts and is bloody, the problem may be in the colon or rectum. Dark or black diarrhea called tarry stools may (but need not) be an indication that there is blood in the stool. Certain food or medication can also cause the stool to turn dark.
Fat stool: This bright, shiny, foamy and foul-smelling diarrhea occurs when the fats ingested with food are not sufficiently used by the metabolism and absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, they end up in the chair. Fatty stool (steatorrhea) can indicate an impaired function of the pancreas, but also inflammatory bowel diseases.
When should I see a doctor if I have diarrhea?
Most acute diarrhea will go away on its own. Two to three days of light food, plenty of drinking (unsweetened herbal teas, blueberry tea and still mineral water) and the evil will be over after two to three days. A self-made rehydration solution (electrolyte solution) can also be helpful to compensate for the loss of fluid and to supply the body with minerals.
Preparation of a rehydration solution with electrolytes according to a recommendation of the WHO:
- 4 teaspoons of sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt (table salt = sodium chloride)
- Eat 1 cup of orange juice or, alternatively, 2 bananas (contains potassium)
- 1 liter of mineral water
If the diarrhea becomes very severe, lasts longer than three days, is accompanied by fever and circulatory problems, or there is blood in the stool, medical help is called for. Pregnant women, the elderly, or mothers whose babies or toddlers have diarrhea should see a doctor earlier. The same applies if poisoning is suspected.
Danger: Better to stay away from pretzel sticks and cola if you have diarrhea. It is true that the body loses minerals as a result of the disease. The pretzel sticks only replace table salt. Cola is also not recommended, because the sugar increases the water excretion in the intestine and the stool becomes even softer. The contained caffeine also stimulates the kidneys and the loss of liquid time increases.
You should be careful with diarrhea medication and first resort to tried and tested home remedies such as carrot soup, grated apples and an electrolyte. In the case of acute diarrhea caused by bacteria or viruses, the body tries to get rid of it quickly. If this process is suppressed with the help of drugs containing the active ingredient loperamide, it can even damage the intestine in the long term.
Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.
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