When Having A Diarrhoea Warrants A Visit To Your Doctor
It interrupts your day and keeps you glued to your toilet seat. Unpleasant as it sounds, diarrhoea certainly is a troublesome occurrence. When you get it, all you want is for it to be over quickly. And if it is something you have been struggling with for quite some time, you definitely want to look for an answer.
First of all, diarrhoea is extremely common and happens to everybody. It usually happens for a short period and disappears on its own. There are two key categories of diarrhoea – chronic and acute.
Both cause the release of watery and loose stools, usually a minimum of three times in a single-day period. Acute diarrhoea might last only for a short period, usually for as short as a day up or as long as two weeks. Some diarrhoea symptoms that might occur would be vomiting, nausea, fever, and abdominal pain.
Chronic diarrhoea, in contrast, persists for an extended period, usually defined by clinicians to last for more than 30 days.
While the two may have similar symptoms, they have entirely different underlying causes.
What causes acute diarrhoea?
Acute diarrhoea is almost without a doubt caused by the development of intestinal infection, which may happen via viral infection or foodborne bacteria. Acute diarrhoeas are generally self-limiting. Hence, they do not often last beyond two days. However, the viruses that cause acute diarrhoea are easily transmitted. For example, rotavirus and norovirus, the two most common viral infection that result in diarrhoea, are the main cause of stomach flu. It can easily spread through members living in the same home, colleagues working in the same office, or even guests enjoying their holiday onboard cruise ships. Even in the recent pandemic, there were cases of individuals who developed acute diarrhoea as a result of being tested positive for COVID-19.
What causes chronic diarrhoea?
Individuals suffering from chronic diarrhoea may experience the same symptoms as those with acute diarrhoea. However, chronic diarrhoea typically lasts more than 30 days and generally happens as a result of an underlying condition or issue, such as:
- Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Celiac disease
- Lactose intolerance
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Removing the gall bladder
Certain over-the-counter medication prescriptions, such as Ibuprofen and some blood pressure-controlling medications, may result in diarrhoea. Overconsumption of supplements, such as magnesium and vitamin c, may also cause diarrhoea.
How to stop diarrhoea?
The occasional occurrence of diarrhoea should generally not be a cause for concern. However, you should visit a doctor if you experience the following:
- Diarrhoea that lasts for more than two days
- Dehydration and cannot keep water or food down
- Severe and sharp stomach pain
- Bloody stool
- A high fever
These symptoms may often be considered a medical emergency. Your doctor may prescribe for blood and stool tests to help determine the main cause of your diarrhoea. Depending on the results, your doctor may also recommend some changes to your current lifestyle to help reduce the occurrence of diarrhoea.
For more severe issues, such as IBD, a gastroenterology visit might be recommended by your doctor.
What are the treatment options for diarrhoea?
If your cause of diarrhoea is due to food sensitivity, such as gluten or lactose intolerance, then the first step of treatment is to modify your current diet. In such cases, diarrhoea happens because the individual’s body is not able to properly absorb certain food, which results in water collecting in the bowels.
Some diet modification steps include:
- Consuming a healthy diet that limits the intake of processed food
- Consuming a high-in-fibre diet (Minimally 38g per day for males and 25g per day for females)
- Avoiding certain food that may trigger diarrhoea
The doctor or gastroenterologist may also prescribe certain medications, such as loperamide or diphenoxylate, which will help manage certain symptoms. At the end of the day, a combination of a well-balanced diet and medication will help treat diarrhoea.
Whether you are suffering from acute or chronic diarrhoea, it is vital not to be alarmed. Do take note of the symptoms you experience as well as what you consumed before it happened. That way, it is easier for your doctor to understand the underlying cause of your diarrhoea and recommend the best-suited course of action to treat your issue.
Nevertheless, if you are unsure of your gut health, regular screening and health check-up is crucial. GutCare offers a wide range of gut-related treatments and screenings, from colon cancer treatment to colonoscopy and endoscopy. Contact us to find out more about our services today!