Everyone Has Diarrhea: 7 Things You Should Know

The runs. The squirts. Or just plain ol’ diarrhea. Whatever name you give it, there’s simply no denying that it stinks—in more ways than one. Between the cramping, pain, urgency and discomfort, having diarrhea is just downright miserable.

And thanks to a variety of different causes—ranging from infections and food allergies to medication reactions and IBS—it may seem impossible to avoid that next, looming episode of tummy torture. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of a bad situation.

So, while it may feel like your stomach hates you, diarrhea is usually just a temporary condition that will pass in a day or 2. But, depending on your symptoms, a day or 2 may feel like an eternity. Here are 7 things to keep in mind the next time it strikes (some of them will help you find the relief you need ASAP):

  1. The most common causes of diarrhea:

·         Contaminated food or water (bacteria that may contaminate food or water include campylobacter, salmonella, shigella and E. coli)

·         Viral infection (viruses that can cause diarrhea include rotavirus (especially in children), Norwalk virus (found in some shellfish), cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis)

·         Food intolerance (people who are lactose intolerant are not able to digest the sugar found in milk and frequently have diarrhea if they drink milk or other dairy products)

·         Medications (medicines such as antibiotics and antacids that contain magnesium)

   2. Chronic diarrhea is common and these are the top causes:

·         Celiac disease is a digestive disease caused by the body's abnormal response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. In people with celiac disease, the gluten causes a loss of the villi, the finger-like projections in the intestine that absorb nutrients and fluids. This leads to chronic diarrhea, gas and other gastrointestinal problems.

·         Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that interferes with the function of the large intestine (colon). Diarrhea is one symptom of IBS; others include abdominal pain, bloating and constipation.

·         Diabetes can also cause constipation or diarrhea.

   3. Diarrhea and children:

·         More than 55,000 children in the US will have a Rotavirus infection, which oftentimes causes severe diarrhea. Many of the cases occur in the winter and early spring, and are common in day-care centers and children's hospitals. Rotavirus diarrhea usually goes away in 3 to 8 days.

   4. What’s normal and what’s not:

·         There’s more to diarrhea than meets the eye. Oftentimes, these episodes will be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms, such as: abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, dehydration and fever.

·         You should call your doctor if your diarrhea continues for more than 3 days; you have severe pain in your abdomen or rectum; you have a fever of at least 102° F (39° C); you have blood in your stool or have black, tarry stools; or you have signs of dehydration.

   5. You should definitely not drink this:

·         Avoid beverages that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, and soda. Fruit juice, sugary drinks, and sports drinks can make diarrhea and dehydration worse. For infants and children with more than mild diarrhea, a doctor usually recommends special beverages that contain electrolytes.

·         Instead, opt for water or broth.

   6. Foods to have in your pantry: (your stomach will thank you)

·         It's best to eat soft, bland foods until your diarrhea goes away—think bananas, rice, applesauce, eggs, crackers and plain toast.

·         Make sure to avoid milk and milk products, as well as foods that are greasy, high in fiber or very sweet.

   7. Don’t suffer through it, instead try this:

·         There are a variety of different remedies that can help to soothe stomach suffering—that bright-pink, chalky liquid comes to mind, right? But, if that isn’t working, you may start to feel desperate for some much needed relief (trust us, we get it). That’s why Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care offers the care you need exactly when you need it.

·        And with a convenient new location in Suwanee, you can enjoy one-stop access to primary care and gastroenterology services—not to mention cardiology, OB/GYN and rheumatology care.


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