Blackmores diarrhoea

Diarrhoea

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Diarrhoea is the term used to describe loose, watery or unformed, which tend to occur more frequently and more urgently than with healthy bowel movements.

Symptoms

  • Loose, watery or unformed stools 
  • Frequent passing of stools 
  • Urgency (the need to go to the toilet without delay) 
  • Abdominal cramping (colic) and pain may occur, and in some cases nausea and vomiting may be present

In most cases, an acute episode of diarrhoea will resolve itself within 48 hours without medical intervention.

Diarrhoea of longer duration or that is accompanied by more severe symptoms (e.g. pain, fever, vomiting, excessive thirst, decreased urination, or the presence of blood or mucus in the stool) should be investigated by a doctor immediately.

Medical advice should also be sought if the patient is a child, elderly, or has a chronic medical condition (e.g. heart or kidney disease).

Causes

Diarrhoea can occur from a wide variety of causes. Some of the most common include:

  • Food poisoning 
  • Gastroenteritis and other forms of gastrointestinal infection. Viruses are responsible for most cases.
  • Stress 
  • Food intolerance and allergy (for example, diarrhoea is a common symptom of lactose intolerance, which is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, resulting in an inability to digest lactose)
  • The use of certain medications, including antibiotics

Chronic (ongoing or recurrent) diarrhoea should always be investigated by your doctor, as it may be symptomatic of a number of underlying health problems, including irritable bowel syndrome and coeliac disease.

Natural therapies

  • Taking a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus reuteri helps to maintain the beneficial gastrointestinal flora, and assists in the relief of diarrhoea in children and adults. Lactobacillus reuteri can be taken after antibiotic use to help manage the diarrhoea that sometimes occurs as an adverse effect of antibiotics.
  • Children are particularly susceptible to infectious diarrhoea when they’re exposed to other kids at school or daycare. Probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG®) and Bifidobacterium animalis (BB-12®) help reduce the frequency of acute episodes of diarrhoea among children at daycare, and also reduce the duration of symptoms. These strains of beneficial bacteria are suitable for use to help maintain intestinal flora after antibiotic use.
  • Andrographis is traditionally used to alleviate acute diarrhoea and other forms of gastrointestinal upset, including indigestion (dyspepsia), loss of appetite, and flatulence.

Diet and lifestyle

  • Severe or ongoing diarrhoea should be investigated and treated by your doctor. The following diet and lifestyle suggestions are recommended as supportive measures for mild, self-limiting episodes of diarrhoea, and are not intended to replace medical advice.
  • Prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. It may also be advisable to take an electrolyte replacement formula, available from your pharmacy.
  • Many cases of diarrhoea are infectious, and are caused by poor hygiene or food handling practices. Maintaining high levels of personal hygiene will help prevent infectious diarrhoea, and limit its transmission to others. For example, always wash your hands with soap after going to the toilet and before handling food, and don’t eat food that has not been well refrigerated and well cooked.
  • While suffering from diarrhoea, stick to a bland diet that contains starchy foods such as bread, rice and bananas.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods, and don’t drink alcohol.
  • Don’t give children fruit juice when they have diarrhoea, as it may trigger or exacerbate the symptoms.
  • If you suspect your symptoms are due to an allergic reaction or food intolerance, work with your healthcare professional to identify the foods that trigger your symptoms.

Important notes

Seek urgent medical advice if:

  • An adult experiences diarrhoea lasting for more than 48 hours, or with severe symptoms. Pain, fever, vomiting, excessive thirst, decreased urination, or the presence of blood or mucus in the stool should always be medically investigated. Diarrhoea in babies and children, the elderly, and those with chronic health problems should be investigated more quickly. 
  • The stool contains blood or mucus, looks like it contains coffee grounds, or diarrhoea episodes alternate with bouts of constipation.