What Causes Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a very common gastrointestinal complaint characterized by loose and watery stools. Most people have diarrhea once or twice a year, lasting for a couple of days and it is usually not serious. A virus that affects the digestive system and is commonly referred to as “stomach flu” often causes it. Some people may experience diarrhea after a period of constipation. Other causes of diarrhea include:
- Food allergies
- Alcohol abuse
- Bacterial infections or food poisoning
- Certain medications
- Overactive thyroids
- Radiation therapy
- Diseases of the intestines like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Surgery on the digestive system
When Should I See a Doctor About Diarrhea?
Medical help should be sought if your diarrhea has blood in it or if it has a black, tarry consistency. If your diarrhea lasts for more than two days, you should consult a doctor or if it is accompanied by nausea or vomiting that stops you from drinking liquids. If you have severe pain in your abdomen or rectum, you should speak to a doctor about your symptoms. Also, if you have traveled to a foreign country and had diarrhea, medical attention may be necessary. Dehydration is a common risk associated with diarrhea, and if you exhibit any symptoms including dark urine, headaches, irritability, or confusion, you should seek immediate medical attention.
How Do Doctors Treat Diarrhea?
Your doctor will make sure that you are sufficiently hydrated and run some tests to determine the cause of your diarrhea. The doctor may prescribe medications to address the cause of your loose bowel movements. You should make sure to drink 48 ounces of water day and consume low-sugar juices and other non-caffeinated beverages. If your rectal area is sore, itchy, or burning, you may find relief with a warm bath and apply hemorrhoid cream or a white petroleum jelly on the area.