Diarrhea is defined as watery or un-formed (loose) stools, which occur more frequently than normal. Diarrhea can be caused by new, unusual, or spicy foods; certain medications; and viruses, bacteria, and other parasites.
The primary symptom of diarrhea is frequent loose or watery stools, but other symptoms can occur, including stomach cramps or tenderness and fever.
Diarrhea is not usually serious; most people will feel well within one to two days and have no long-term health effects related to the illness. A healthcare provider should be seen if diarrhea is bloody.
Sometimes people with diarrhea due to a viral or bacterial infection are unable to drink enough liquids to replace what is lost. These people can become dehydrated and may need medical attention. Dehydration is more commonly seen among the very young, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.
People can become infected with bacteria/viruses in several ways, including:
Anti-diarrheal agents are available over the counter. These medications slow down diarrhea. However, they are not recommended when diarrhea is caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
If a bacterial infection is diagnosed as the cause of diarrhea, the healthcare provider may recommend an antibiotic. Plenty of liquids should be given to keep the ill person hydrated and lots of rest is recommended.
Yes. Prevention includes:
Working with providers on the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases, illnesses and other factors relating to health.