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Normal frequency of bowel is one to three per day of normal consistency. Any variation (loose & frequent) with urgency of defecation is considered as diarrhoea. The term diarrhoea literally means “a running through” and is applied to frequent passage of unformed motions of loose consistency. Diarrhoea should be differentiated from acute bowel inflammatory diseases (colitis, ulcerative colitis, amoebiasis, Crohn’s disease etc.). Infective or drug induced or due to indigestion or due to stress, are to be separately considered.
There are many causes with one common physiological factor of excessive peristaltic movement. General causes include unsuitable food, excess of alcohol, unripe fruit, chemical irritants, oral antibiotics, poisons & infections. Local causes include gastric disturbances, gastro-enteritis, bacterial or viral infection, and subsequent inflammation of small and large intestines and ulcerative colitis. There could be serious factors like food poisoning, typhoid or enteric fever, cholera, cancer of colon, and disorders of pancreatic secretion. These are to be differentiated from general & local causes mentioned above.
Acute diarrhoea is usually due to dietetic indiscretion, food poisoning, infection such as bacillary dysentery, or an exacerbation in one of the causes of chronic diarrhoea which are mentioned below.
Chronic diarrhoea with pain may be due to various causes like bacterial, fungal or viral infection, due to diseases like colitis or Crohn’s disease, or some drugs, etc. More precisely, chronic diarrhoea occurs:
(1) after operations such as gastrectomy and other surgeries,
(2) from lesions of the small intestine such as regional ileitis and the malabsorption,
(3) in diseases of the colon, such as amoebiasis, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis and carcinoma.
It should be taken seriously and self-medication should be avoided. We strongly advise that a physician should be consulted for this.
Apart from alimentary disorders such as the above, chronic diarrhoea may be due to general causes, such as thyrotoxicosis or anxiety neurosis.
Dos and don’ts
Taking oral rehydration salts is utmost important. Other liquid diet should be taken frequently. Apart from these, maintaining hygiene like washing hands properly, maintaining cleanliness in the toilets is also important.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein on request should not be taken as a replacement of medical advice or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
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