Latest Catalogue Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea

DEFINITION

Diarrhoea is the frequent passing of loose, watery and unformed faeces.


DESCRIPTION

Food nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. The waste is pushed into the large intestine (bowel) where water is removed. The resulting faeces is stored temporarily within the rectum then passed out of the body through the anus. Faeces are usually firm, moist and easy to pass. The term Diarrhoea is used when stools are passed more than three times a day and when the stools become loose or watery.

 

The most common cause of Diarrhoea is an intestinal infection, such as gastroenteritis or food poisoning. Viruses are responsible for most cases. The intestinal lining becomes irritated and inflamed, which blocks the absorption of water from food waste. Generally, acute diarrhoea resolves after one or two days. Chronic diarrhoea, which lasts four weeks or more, can be caused by a range of conditions that affect the intestines including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

 

Contaminated food and water are common causes of acute diarrhoea. Some of the infectious agents known to cause diarrhoea include:
Viruses - such as calici virus, adenovirus and rotavirus.
Bacteria - such as E. coli, Campylobacter, V. cholerae, Shigella, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus.
Parasites - such as Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium parvum and tapeworm. .

 


TREATMENT OPTIONS

As with all conditions, your Doctor should be consulted. Your Doctor will help determine the cause of the Diarrhoea e.g. stress, infection, drugs, alcohol etc and prescribe appropriate treatment. Ask your Doctor about the latest advice on this ailment. It is very important that the exact type of Diarrhoea is diagnosed. The treatment varies for each condition. If a child shows signs of dehydration e.g drowsiness, passing little urine, few or no wet nappies, a dry mouth and tongue, is unresponsive etc, you should contact your GP immediately.


DIET HINTS

Eat foods high in carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice or potatoes) and other foods as soon as there is an appetite.

Reduce dairy products as well as spicy foods, curries, rich and greasy foods. If you must eat, have foods low in fibre as fibre can sometimes aggravate the condition. Dry foods are usually the best e.g., dry biscuits.
Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost and consider using an electrolyte replacement drink. Drink only bottled water while travelling. Supplement with acidophilus to help re-establish correct bowel flora.
Identify food allergies and sensitivities and eliminate these foods. Do not allow children to have cow's milk during an episode of viral diarrhoea.
Use an eloctrolyte replacement powder or drink as recommended by your Pharmacist.
See the Diarrhoea Diet topic on the Healthpoint.


VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBS

Some herbs are valuable in easing the symptoms of Diarrhoea.

-Slippery elm can have a soothing effect on the intestines.

-Marshmallow may help calm the stomach and soothe intestinal problems. 

-Psyllium husks can absorb water from the stool and sooth the intestinal lining.
-Activated charcoal may be useful to assist in binding toxins in the digestive tract.

-Acidophilus contains friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus which can aid indigestion and fight infection.


AROMATHERAPY

The listed essential oils are suggested for the temporary relief of Diarrhoea. The most specific oils are shown in capitals.
BLUE CHAMOMILE, CHAMOMILE, YLANG YLANG
Application
MASSAGE: Blend any single listed essential oil or combination of essential oils - 5 drops (total) to 10mL (1/3 fl oz) carrier oil ie: Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel. Apply with gentle massage to abdomen in clockwise direction. Blue Chamomile and Chamomile oil, when diluted 3% in Jojoba oil, can be blended 10 drops to 10mL (1/3 fl oz) carrier oil and applied in the same manner.
These recommendations are for an adult. For infants over 3 months and up to 2 years, use 1/4 dose i.e.: 1 drop to 10ml (1/3 fl oz); children 2 - 12 years and during pregnancy use 1/2 dose.


NOTES

Sometimes it is useful to describe the appearance of the stool in order to try to identify the condition. Malabsorption syndromes usually give a watery type stool which may be fatty and greasy and tends to float on the water. Irritable bowel syndrome is usually associated with a non bloody mucus with alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea. Different organisms can give different types of stool odour and colour. For instance 'Shigella' organism have a characteristic blood tinged mucus without any odour. 'Salmonella' and 'Escherichia coli' organisms tend to cause greenish soupy stools. Duration of the diarrhoeal episode also may give an indication of what type of infection is causing the diarrhoea. Acute episodes of diarrhoea in a previously healthy person are usually self limiting and last several days. They are often indicative of an infection. However a more prolonged diarrhoea can be associated with infections such as 'Giardia' and Cryptosporidium.


PHARMACIST'S ADVICE

Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
1) Your Pharmacist may suggest some tablets containing loperamide for simple Diarrhoea. The Pharmacy can offer other anti-Diarrhoea mixtures and tablets.
2) It is very important to increase fluid intake if you are suffering from Diarrhoea. Your Pharmacist can suggest an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) which will help replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
3) Check the diet for any food allergies, e.g., tomatoes, seafood. This may be a cause.
4) Look at the Diet Hints especially hot or cold foods as these can irritate the bowel.
5) When travelling in third world countries, drink only purified or sealed bottled water as tap water is often contaminated.
6) Avoid caffeine i.e., coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate etc., as this chemical can stimulate bowel movements and worsen the dehydration caused by diarrhoea through a diuretic action (increasing the volume of urine).
7) Some nutritional supplements may be suggested if the diet is inadequate. It may be beneficial to take a daily B group and C vitamin as these are water soluble nutrients which may be lost with diarrhoea. Large doses of vitamin C may cause Diarrhoea so lower the dosage if this is a problem. An acidophilus supplement will help to normalise bowel flora and improve absorption.
8) Slippery elm powder is soothing to the gut, helps firm the stool and promotes the growth of helpful bacteria in the gut and may be valuable in relieving the symptoms of Diarrhoea.