It is hard when you are out of the house to attend a very special event and then you feel a sudden unexplainable pain in your abdominal area. Conscious of what you are feeling, you decide to go to the bathroom to let it all out. After a few more hours, the pain is back. You go back to the bathroom for the second time and realize that your stool is not solid and is instead liquid in form, plus your frequent visit to the bathroom is getting more unusual. What you are feeling is not a normal abdominal pain or fecal excretion – it can already be diarrhea.
What is Diarrhea
Diarrhea is easy to detect. This condition is characterized by unusual watery stool and frequent abdominal pain that leads to many bathroom visits. Most of the time, a person with diarrhea gets to visit the bathroom with a minimum of three times that can increase up to many more times. Diarrhea may last for a few days, but normally it only takes up about one to two days for the person to recover. However, there are also a few cases of diarrhea wherein it lasts for more than the expected period of a few days.
Some symptoms of diarrhea are the same as other digestive issues, which is why it is common that people mistake diarrhea as another condition. However it may be similar to other digestive conditions, diarrhea still has specific symptoms and causes that make it easier to distinguish.
Causes of Diarrhea
There are many reasons as to why diarrhea happens, but the most common causes are those that directly affect the digestive system.
The common causes of diarrhea are:
- Due to exposure to contaminated food or water.
- The person has food intolerance and it triggered diarrhea.
- It is a reaction from food allergy.
- Some medications cause diarrhea as a side effect.
- It can be due to a viral or bacterial infection.
- The person may be suffering from an intestinal disease.
- There is an infection caused by parasites.
- The person may have undergone any form of gallbladder or stomach surgery.
Also, it is said that there are about more than 50 health conditions that cause the occurrence of diarrhea. This list also keeps on getting long since there are said to be quite more cases of other health condition-related diarrhea other than the previously studied ones.
Viral gastroenteritis can also be called the stomach flu. This condition occurs when there is an inflammation in the stomach and intestine due to viral infections. According to studies, this digestive condition normally happens to people and it is also considered to be highly contagious. One of the root causes of viral gastroenteritis is the consumption of contaminated food or water.
This condition occurs when the inflammation in the stomach and intestine is caused by a bacterial infection. Another term for bacterial gastroenteritis is food poisoning. The symptoms of this health condition cause most intestinal and digestive issues such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.
In the case of giardiasis, the small intestinal infection is caused by a certain parasite known as Giardia lamblia. This digestive condition is said to be contagious, it is also common to get giardiasis from consuming contaminated food or water.
Specific food allergies also trigger diarrhea. This is the immune system’s reaction to the body being allergic to a certain type of food.
Like food allergies, the body reacts to the lactose content of most dairy product; therefore resulting to an unwanted case of diarrhea.
Celiac disease is almost the same as food allergy and lactose intolerance, only that the body rejects the intake of gluten. When the body detects the gluten content, the immune system may react by prompting the sudden start of diarrhea.
Amebiasis is another type of infection caused by parasites, specifically the protozoan E. histolytica. One of the main symptoms of having amebiasis is loose and watery stool plus a series of pain and cramps that occurs in the abdominal and stomach area.
Fecal impaction refers to the condition wherein there is an irregular process of digestion, thus the normal bowel movement is disrupted and it causes the release of watery and liquid-like stool. During fecal impaction, the colon gets stuck or impacted with the supposed fecal waste that must be excreted during that time; but since the colon cannot easily remove the stuck feces, it tends to only release a few of them.
Premenstrual syndrome or PMS
Women who are about to get their menstruation encounters what we call premenstrual syndrome or PMS once in a while. In this condition, diarrhea often occurs, and it is considered as a normal phenomenon.
What to Eat When You Have Diarrhea
A person experiencing diarrhea must be careful about what they eat. This is because there are some types of food that can prolong diarrhea or even make it harder for it to heal on its own. Also, for those cases of diarrhea that were caused by certain food intolerance or allergy, the food is eaten during the healing period must be properly taken care of.
Foods with less to no additional flavorings and spices.
Most of the time, spicy foods or overly flavored foods can cause bowel issues by themselves because their contents seem to irritate the bowels, therefore they must be avoided. It is better to eat foods that are naturally flavored, especially those with almost bland flavors. Some of these foods are rice porridge, oatmeal, fruits like bananas, plain white rice, unflavored boiled potatoes, and many more.
It is also advisable for these types of food to be eaten on the first day of the occurrence of diarrhea. You may also try eating small meals frequently to keep the digestive system from working too hard.
Eat probiotic-rich foods.
Probiotics are known to be very beneficial for digestive and gut health. There are also many varieties of fermented food that contain enough amounts of probiotics.
However, though proven to be effective in most digestive problems, there are a few cases wherein the probiotic content may worsen the irritation. Plus there are probiotic foods that can become an allergen for some people, specifically those that are made from dairy products. But there are good and healthy probiotic-rich foods that one may settle with instead; such as kimchi, natto, miso, or sauerkraut among others. Nonetheless, it is still better to ask for a nutritionist’s help.
Drink lots of clean water.
A person suffering from diarrhea tends to lose great amounts of water in their bodies, therefore it is important to replenish all the lost water to avoid any case of dehydration and to fully remove other remaining toxins in the body.
One should also consume soups or drinks that are rich in electrolytes.
Just as the body loses water during diarrhea, certain minerals and some counts of electrolytes are also lost during the process. It is then important to restock the lost mineral and electrolytes by consuming coconut water, sports drinks, or any healthy kind of soup broth.