What is diarrhea? Diarrhea is a condition that is often experienced by many people. Diarrhea is a condition when intestinal peristalsis is faster than usual so that defecation is more dilute and more frequent. Sometimes, diarrhea is not a dangerous disease. However, diarrhea is a condition that causes serious effects if it results in dehydration which ultimately causes hypovolemic shock (body drop due to lack of fluid).
In Indonesia, diarrhea is a health problem that is quite alarming. Diarrhea is ranked 13th cause of death in general with a proportion of 3.5 percent. Whereas for the category of infectious diseases, diarrhea was ranked third.
Causes of diarrhea
Of course you already know what diarrhea is. However, besides finding out what diarrhea is, you also need to know the cause of diarrhea. Causes of diarrhea can vary. One of them, diarrhea can occur due to food poisoning, bacterial infections, and stress. Diarrhea can usually heal itself because actually diarrhea itself is the body’s mechanism for removing toxins and germs in the intestine. In young children, the most common cause of diarrhea is a virus that can heal by itself.
Although the cause of diarrhea can sometimes be cured without medication, diarrhea sufferers still need to be considered because if a lot of body fluids are wasted, diarrhea sufferers must drink lots of fluids and anti-diarrhea drugs if this disease has disrupted daily activities. For cases of prolonged diarrhea (more than 2 weeks) there may be other underlying diseases.
When a person has diarrhea, the stool becomes watery because of the amount of fluid secreted into the intestine. Or vice versa, the fluid in the intestine cannot be absorbed and circulated throughout the body. This condition is influenced by many factors that can also make diarrhea a short or long time.
For short-term diseases, the cause of diarrhea is:
- At most, diarrheal diseases are caused by bacterial infections. Bacterial infections that can also cause food poisoning (campylobacter, clostridum difficile, escherichia coli, salmonella, and shigella)
- Food allergies can also be a cause of diarrhea
- Damage to the intestinal lining due to radiotherapy
- Psychological problems (eg anxiety disorders)
- Foods that contain artificial sweeteners
- Viral infections (rotavirus and norovirus) are other causes of diarrhea
- Parasite giardia intestinalis
Meanwhile, long-term diarrheal diseases are usually caused by:
- Crohn’s disease, which is inflammation of the lining of the digestive system
- Ulcerative colitis, which is a condition that affects the large intestine
- Irritable bowel syndrome or disruption of normal bowel function
- There are also cases of diarrhea caused by colon cancer.
- Chronic pancreatic inflammation
Diagnosis of diarrhea
There are several tests that can be done to diagnose diarrheal diseases, including:
1. Analysis of faeces
The doctor will ask you to submit the stool sample for analysis. This aims to identify possible infections. This analysis is done if you have had diarrhea for more than two weeks, there is blood or pus in the stool. In addition, this examination also needs to be done if you have diarrhea after being hospitalized or because of a weak immune system (HIV sufferers).
2. Blood test
Your doctor will ask you to take a blood test if there is a suspicion that the symptoms of diarrhea you are experiencing are symptoms of another disease. For example, the results of blood tests indicate inflammation. This is one symptom of inflammatory bowel disease and not just common diarrhea.
3. Rectal examination
If the patient is over 50 years old or has symptoms of diarrhea that is difficult to heal, the doctor will do a digital rectal examination. The method of examination is done by inserting a finger into the rectum to check for abnormal conditions. This examination aims to diagnose diseases related to the rectum and intestines, so doctors can suspect that the symptoms of diarrhea shown by the patient are actually not just ordinary diarrhea.
Also read: Are you having diarrhea? These Are Food Choices To Deal With It
Symptoms of diarrhea
In each patient, diarrhea symptoms vary. Some people remove stools that are very watery, while others remove feces that are not too runny. The following are signs or symptoms of diarrhea that you experience getting worse.
- Pimples are thick and yellow, the frequency of voiding is less than 4 times per day with fever, sunken eyes, and dry skin
- Diarrhea stays above 2 weeks
- Stomach ache
Symptoms of severe diarrhea such as this can be signs of conditions such as infection, irritable bowel disease, pancreatitis, colon cancer, or a decrease in immune conditions. Even so, diarrhea can disappear on its own within 48 hours. The most important thing that can be done when diarrhea is to stay well hydrated, avoid foods that trigger diarrhea such as spicy and fibrous foods.
For information, excessive fluid discharge through feces coupled with loss of appetite can result in dehydration. This condition must be treated immediately because it can be fatal. Dehydration itself is easier to occur in children. This is because children’s resistance to dehydration is lower than that of adults.
Treatment of diarrhea
If not immediately given treatment, diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Dehydration has fatal consequences and has the potential to take a patient’s life, especially if it occurs in children. This is because the child’s body’s resistance to dehydration is much lower than that of adults.
Overcome dehydration with ORS or drink lots of water in large quantities. Water intake is very important to prevent dehydration. Visit a doctor immediately to get the right treatment.
The following are some types of medications to treat diarrhea:
- Treatment of diarrhea with drugs to bind water so that stools are more dense, such as attalpulgit drugs
- Treatment of diarrhea with drugs to stop intestinal peristalsis such as papaverine or antiparasympathetic
- Treatment of diarrhea with antibiotics or antiparasites is consumed when the results of stool examination indicate a bacterial infection or parasitic infection such as amoeba.
Antidiarrheal medications are usually not needed, except for those who have solid activities or who want to travel long distances. One of the antidiarrheal drugs for the treatment of diarrhea that is effective and fast in stopping diarrhea is loperamide. Even so, loperamide should not be given to children.
Most diarrhea sufferers can recover after a few days without treatment of diarrhea. In adults, diarrhea usually resolves after 2-4 days. Whereas in children, diarrhea usually lasts longer between 5-7 days.