Information on the causes of chronic diarrhea and constant loose or watery stools.
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What is Diarrhea?
At some stage of our lives, most of us will experience a bout of the rather unpleasant condition - diarrhea. Most of us experience two bowel movements per day, and have firm stools. When stools are watery or liquid and very loose – and this occurs three or more times a day, it is known as diarrhea. For most, this condition lasts a day or two, but if it persists, it may be a reason for concern, or point to a more serious condition.
What Causes Diarrhea?
Most times, diarrhea is caused by our diet – eating too much fruit or spicy food, a drastic change in diet, or weather temperature. Acute diarrhea is usually related to a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection, with chronic diarrhea related to digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. As is commonly the case with vomiting, diarrhea causes the body to lose vital amounts of fluids, and so dehydration is always a concern.
Always consult your doctor if you or children experience prolonged periods of diarrhea, if it is accompanied by pain in the abdomen, or blood in the stools.
More Information for Diarrhea
Tips related to diarrhea
Until diarrhea subsides, try to:
- Avoid caffeine, milk products, and foods that are greasy, high in fiber, or very sweet, as these foods tend to aggravate diarrhea. Try unsalted crackers, or dry toast or browned apple shavings.
- Slowly add soft, bland foods to your diet, including bananas, plain rice, boiled potatoes, cooked carrots, and baked chicken without the skin or fat.
Tips for lessening diarrhea while traveling
Traveler’s diarrhea happens when you consume food or water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. You can take the following precautions to prevent traveler’s diarrhea when you travel outside of the United States.
- Drink tap water or use it to brush your teeth.
- Drink unpasteurized milk or dairy products.
- Use ice made from tap water.
- Eat raw fruits and vegetables, including lettuce and fruit salads, unless they can be peeled and you peel them yourself.
- Eat raw or rare meat and fish.
- Eat meat or shellfish that is not hot when served.
- Eat food from street vendors.