Diarrhoea in Adults: Causes, Treatments And Prevention

Diarrhoea: Management, prevention and Treatment

Diarrhoea is when you have frequent loose watery bowel motions. You have diarrhoea if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. It can make your life pretty miserable.  In most cases, the symptoms resolve on their own within a couple of days without the need for medical treatment.

Acute diarrhoea is diarrhea that lasts a short time. It is a common problem. It usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer. Then it goes away on its own.

Diarrhea lasting more than a few days may be a sign of a more serious problem. Chronic diarrhoea is diarrhoea that lasts at least four weeks. It can be a symptom of a chronic disease such as HIV. Chronic diarrhoea symptoms may be continual, or they may come and go.

Diarrhea causes, treatment and prevention

Types Of Diarrhoea

  • Acute Watery Diarrhoea – It can last for several hours or even days. This type can be caused due to cholera infection.
  • Acute Bloody Diarrhoea – Blood in the watery stool. This type is also referred to as dysentery.
  • Persistent Diarrhoea – It lasts for 14 days or more.

Causes of Diarrhoea?

The most common causes of diarrhoea include

  • Bacteria from contaminated food or water
  • Viruses such as the flu, norovirus, or rotavirus . Rotavirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhea in children.
  • Parasites, which are tiny organisms found in contaminated food or water
  • Medicines such as laxatives, cancer drugs, and antacids that contain magnesium
  • Food intolerances and sensitivities. These are problems digesting certain ingredients or foods. An example is lactose intolerance.
  • Consumption of uncooked meats
  • Use of contaminated water bodies
  • Eating contaminated food
  • Diseases that affect the stomach, small intestine, or colon, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Problems with how the colon functions, such as irritable bowel syndrome

Some people also get diarrhea after stomach surgery. Because sometimes the surgeries can cause food to move through your digestive system more quickly.

Signs And Symptoms of Diarrhoea

When diarrhoea strikes, it can have you running to the bathroom every hour or more. Besides watery stool, the following symptoms can also be present.

In severe cases,

  • Presence of blood in the stool
  • Pus in the stool
  • Dehydration
  • Persistent vomiting


Treatment is by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Depending on the cause of the problem, you may need medicines to stop the diarrhea or treat an infection.

  • You should drink water, fruit juices, sports drinks, sodas without caffeine, and salty broths. As your symptoms improve, you can eat soft and also bland food.
  • Try these low-fiber foods: potatoes; rice; noodles; ripe bananas; chicken or turkey without the skin; lean ground beef; fish; yogurt; or cottage cheese.
  • Avoid the following: greasy, fatty, or fried foods; raw vegetables and fruits; strong spices; and whole-grain cereals and breads.
  • Limit food or beverages with caffeine, such as chocolate, coffee, strong tea, and some sodas.
  • If you have cramping with diarrhea, avoid foods and beverages that cause gas, such as beans, cabbage, beer, and carbonated beverages.

Tips to Prevent Diarrhoea

The most important way to avoid diarrhoea is to avoid coming into contact with infectious agents that can cause it. The following tips can help reduce the risk of diarrhoea;

Make sure that the cooked food you eat is fully cooked and served hot

Avoid eating unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables

Good hand washing practices

Hand washing is one of the most effective preventive measures. You should always wash your hands thoroughly with use of soap and plenty of water after using the toilet, changing nappies and before meals.

Use of safe, hygienic and portable water

Always use clean and safe water for cleaning of cooking utensils and drinking. Collect and store drinking water in clean containers. Keep the storage container covered and do not allow children or animals to drink from it.

Keep your food clean

Under-cooked meats and other foods can harbor the bacteria that cause loose stools. Therefore, kitchen care is an important step in preventing food-related bacterial infections that result in watery stools. Wash all fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating. Also, avoid dairy products that aren’t pasteurized. Keep counter-tops and all kitchen utensils clean.

Proper use of washrooms

Avoid defecating in areas and places that can contaminate a water source. This is best achieved through regular use of a well-maintained washrooms. When there is no latrine or pit, you should defecate as hygienically as possible, away from the path, and at least 10 metres away from any home or source of water.

About felclinic 593 Articles
Felix Ntifo is a Registered General Nurse who has so much passion to improve health care delivery. He founded FelClinic with the hope of making health information accessible to everyone who may not come in contact with him personally. "At felclinic.com we are very passionate about health and well-being of everyone. Our team is made up of professional doctors, nurses, midwives and lab technicians."

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