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A – Z of Illnesses & Conditions

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Diarrhoea


Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea is when you pass loose or watery stool. In some people diarrhoea is mild and goes away in a few days. In other people it may last longer. Diarrhoea can make you feel weak and dehydrated. The most common cause of diarrhoea is the stomach flu. This mild viral infection goes away on its own within a few days.

Eating or drinking food or water that contains certain types of bacteria or parasites can also lead to diarrhoea. This problem may be called food poisoning. Diarrhoea may also be caused by certain medical disorders including inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and lactose intolerance (which causes problems with milk and other dairy products).

Diarrhoea can also sometimes be a side effect of medicines including: antibiotics; antacid medicines that contain magnesium;  some medicines that are used in chemotherapy; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); statins (cholesterol-lowering medicines); laxatives (medicine used to help empty your bowels if you are constipated). 

Most cases of diarrhoea clear up after a few days without treatment, and you may not need to see your doctor. However, diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, so you should drink plenty of fluids (small, frequent sips of water) until it passes. It's very important that babies and small children do not become dehydrated. 

It's important to see your doctor if the diarrhoea is particularly frequent or severe, or is associated with other symptoms, such as:
  •     blood in your or your child's poo
  •     persistent vomiting
  •     a severe or continuous stomach ache
  •     weight loss
  •     signs of dehydration including drowsiness
  •     passing urine infrequently
  •     feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  •     your poo is dark or black – this may be a sign of bleeding inside your stomach
You should also contact your doctor if your or your child's diarrhoea is particularly persistent, as this may be a sign of a more serious problem. In most cases, diarrhoea should pass within about a week.

Always seek the advice of your doctor before taking herbal remedies

 


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