What is diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea involves loose, watery stools (poo) and often a change in the usual number of daily bowel movements.
Acute diarrhoea is diarrhoea that lasts a short time. It usually lasts about one or two days, but if it lasts more than a few days it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
What causes diarrhoea?
The most common causes of diarrhoea include:
- Harmful bacteria from contaminated food or water
- Viruses such as norovirus, or rotavirus . Rotavirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhoea in children
- Parasites, such as giardia found in contaminated food or water
- Medicines such as antibiotics that upset the balance of protective gut bacteria
- Medications used for oncology patients
- Antacids containing magnesium
- Food intolerances and sensitivities (eg lactose or gluten intolerance)
- Diseases that affect the gastrointestinal system such as Crohn’s disease
- Conditions that affect the colon function such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
How to treat diarrhoea?
The most important step in the management of diarrhoea is to prevent dehydration.
- For adults, replace lost fluids and electrolytes with water and/or a rehydration solution available from the pharmacy. Avoid drinks containing caffeine, because it causes fluid loss.
- Children with diarrhoea should be given a oral rehydration solution to replace lost fluids and electrolytes
- In some cases, you may need medicines to stop the diarrhoea or treat an infection. Ask you healthcare professional for advice
- While recovering, try and eat ‘bland’ food