Diarrhea occurs when increases the proportion of water contained in the stool, increasing the daily faecal weight removed for more than 250 g.
The urgency to go to the bathroom, inability to hold stool or multiple evacuations may be associated with diarrhea, but are not necessarily synonymous, as can happen with normal stool consistency.
Acute diarrhea starts suddenly and lasting less than three weeks, in most cases, show improvement within three to five days.
Chronic diarrhea occurs for a period longer than 3-4 weeks.
Causes of diarrhea
The intestines are responsible for absorbing food and fluid intake as well as those produced by the digestive tract. Of the total produced, up to 9 liters per day, the intestines reabsorb all but 100 to 200 ml eliminated with feces.
The causes of diarrhea are numerous, ranging from acute and chronic diarrhea. But all causes change the intestinal function, causing an increased volume of water in the stool
Causes of acute diarrhea
- Most of acute diarrhea is caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites.
- In these infectious agents, certain substances alter the absorption and / or intestinal secretion, such as laxatives or several adverse effects of drugs, causing diarrhea.
- The use of various antibiotics can lead to change the intestinal flora resulting in diarrhea.
Causes of chronic diarrhea
- Lack of lactase, an enzyme that digests the milk;
- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory bowel causing chronic diarrhea;
- Infections and intestinal parasites;
- Lymphoma and bowel cancer;
- Celiac disease;
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome;
- Drugs can lead to chronic diarrhea when its use is prolonged or repeated as quinidine, colchicine, cimetidine, NSAIDs, antibiotics, tamsulosin, lactulose, antacids, laxatives, and many others. Certain chemotherapy drugs such as anti-cancer methotrexate, 6-mercaptopurine, 5-fluorouracil and can lead to similar problem.
- Alcohol, especially the abuse;
- Actinic enteritis secondary to radiation therapy;
- Chronic intestinal ischemia (insufficient blood supply blood);
- Hormonal problems such as hyperthyroidism.
Diagnosis of diarrhea
The diagnosis of diarrhea involves the identification of the cause, but in acute diarrhea in this step is generally unnecessary in view of the frame self-limited.
In chronic diarrhea may require a detailed investigation, which makes use of additional tests, such as:
- Stool examination,
- Intestinal biopsies and other tests.
Treatment of acute diarrhea
Most acute diarrhea resolves spontaneously within a few days, just that the individual stay hydrated.
People with bloody diarrhea, high fever or significant impairment of general condition should seek medical at risk of harm human health and complicate.
The elderly and children should also receive medical treatment to avoid complications.
Some measures help to ease and enhance the picture improves:
- Avoid fatty foods, high fiber, dairy products, coffee and alcohol.
- Give preference for light meals, in smaller quantities and more frequently, and a large amount of liquid in the form of water, juices, teas and soups.
- Antidiarrheal drugs that decrease the frequency of bowel movements and increase the consistency of the stool should be used only under medical supervision.
- Antibiotics or antiparasitic agents also should only be prescribed by the physician depending on the needs of each case.
Treatment of chronic diarrhea
Treatment of chronic diarrhea involves the recommendations above, but mainly is based on identifying the cause.