«Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose or liquid bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin with loss of the normal stretchiness of the skin and irritable behaviour. This can progress to decreased urination, loss of skin color, a fast heart rate, and a decrease in responsiveness as it becomes more severe. Loose but non-watery stools in babies who are exclusively breastfed, however, are normal.
The most common cause is an infection of the intestines due to either a virus, bacteria, or parasite – a condition also known as gastroenteritis. These infections are often acquired from food or water that has been contaminated by feces, or directly from another person who is infected. The three types of diarrhea are: short duration watery diarrhea, short duration bloody diarrhea, and persistent diarrhea (lasting more than two weeks). The short duration watery diarrhea may be due to an infection by cholera, although this is rare in the developed world. If blood is present it is also known as dysentery. A number of non-infectious causes can result in diarrhea. These include lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, hyperthyroidism, bile acid diarrhea, and a number of medications. In most cases, stool cultures to confirm the exact cause are not required.
Diarrhea can be prevented by improved sanitation, clean drinking water, and hand washing with soap.Breastfeeding for at least six months and vaccination against rotavirus is also recommended.Oral rehydration solution (ORS)--clean water with modest amounts of salt and sugar—is the treatment of choice.Zinc tablets are also recommended. These treatments have been estimated to have saved 50 million children in the past 25 years. When people have diarrhea it is recommended that they continue to eat healthy food and babies continue to be breastfed. If commercial ORS are not available, homemade solutions may be used. In those with severe dehydration, intravenous fluids may be required. Most cases; however, can be managed well with fluids by mouth.Antibiotics, while rarely used, may be recommended in a few cases such as those who have bloody diarrhea and a high fever, those with severe diarrhea following travelling, and those who grow specific bacteria or parasites in their stool.Loperamide may help decrease the number of bowel movements but is not recommended in those with severe disease.
About 1.7 to 5 billion cases of diarrhea occur per year. It is most common in developing countries, where young children get diarrhea on average three times a year. Total deaths from diarrhea are estimated at 1.26 million in 2013 – down from 2.58 million in 1990. In 2012, it was the second most common cause of deaths in children younger than five (0.76 million or 11%). Frequent episodes of diarrhea are also a common cause of malnutrition and the most common cause in those younger than five years of age. Other long term problems that can result include stunted growth and poor intellectual development.
Diarrhea is defined by the World Health Organization as having three or more loose or liquid stools per day, or as having more stools than is normal for that person.
Acute diarrhea is defined as an abnormally frequent discharge of semisolid or fluid fecal matter from the bowel, lasting less than 14 days, by World Gastroenterology Organization.
Secretory diarrhea means that there is an increase in the active secretion, or there is an inhibition of absorption. There is little to no structural damage. The most common cause of this type of diarrhea is a cholera toxin that stimulates the secretion of anions, especially chloride ions (Cl–). Therefore, to maintain a charge balance in the gastrointestinal tract, sodium (Na+) is carried with it, along with water. In this type of diarrhea intestinal fluid secretion is isotonic with plasma even during fasting. It continues even when there is no oral food intake.
Osmotic diarrhea occurs when too much water is drawn into the bowels. If a person drinks solutions with excessive sugar or excessive salt, these can draw water from the body into the bowel and cause osmotic diarrhea. Osmotic diarrhea can also be the result of maldigestion (e.g. pancreatic disease or coeliac disease), in which the nutrients are left in the lumen to pull in water. Or it can be caused by osmotic laxative (which work to alleviate constipation by drawing water into the bowels). In healthy individuals, too much magnesium or vitamin C or undigested lactose can produce osmotic diarrhea and distention of the bowel. A person who has lactose intolerance can have difficulty absorbing lactose after an extraordinarily high intake of dairy products. In persons who have fructose malabsorption, excess fructose intake can also cause diarrhea. High-fructose foods that also have a high glucose content are more absorbable and less likely to cause diarrhea. Sugar alcohol such as sorbitol (often found in sugar-free foods) are difficult for the body to absorb and, in large amounts, may lead to osmotic diarrhea. In most of these cases, osmotic diarrhea stops when the offending agent (e.g. milk, sorbitol) is stopped.
Exudative diarrhea occurs with the presence of blood and pus in the stool. This occurs with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, and other severe infections such as E. coli or other forms of food poisoning.
Inflammatory diarrhea occurs when there is damage to the mucosal lining or brush border, which lead to a passive loss of protein-rich fluids and a decreased ability to absorb these lost fluids. Features of all three of the other types of diarrhea[clarification needed] can be found in this type of diarrhea. It can be caused by bacterial infection, viral infections, parasitic infections, or autoimmune problems such as inflammatory bowel diseases. It can also be caused by tuberculosis, colon cancer, and enteritis.
If there is blood visible in the stools, it is also known as dysentery. The blood is a trace of an invasion of bowel tissue. Dysentery is a symptom of, among others, Shigella, Entamoeba histolytica, and Salmonella.
Diarrheal disease may have a negative impact on both physical fitness and mental development. "Early childhood malnutrition resulting from any cause reduces physical fitness and work productivity in adults," and diarrhea is a primary cause of childhood malnutrition. Further, evidence suggests that diarrheal disease has significant impacts on mental development and health; it has been shown that, even when controlling for helminth infection and early breastfeeding, children who had experienced severe diarrhea had significantly lower scores on a series of tests of intelligence.» (wikipedia)
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