Diarrhoea sufferers know the disruptive embarrassing uncontrollable emergency which can be a nightmare to cope with I seek to help to assist to eliminate this.
I do not know about you but often health professionals do not understand until they or someone close to them suffers – often their mother and then they DO something about it!
What is diarrhoea?
Signs may include some of the following:
- Abdominal pain or cramps or a bloated stomach.
- Passing of loose, unformed or liquid stools when you go to the toilet
- Sudden urgent need to rush to the toilet several times during the course of a day
- Nausea or feeling faint
- high temperature of above 38ºC (100.4ºF)
- loss of appetite
- lacking energy or feeling tired
- loss of appetite
- feeling light-headed
- dizziness, especially when standing up
- dry tongue
- sunken eyes
- muscle cramps
- rapid heartbeat
How can you differentiate between acute and chronic diarrhoea?
- Starts with little or no warning
- Clear up of its own accord in 1 to 3 days
- There may by cramping pains, bloating or wind
Sufferers rarely contact of General Practitioner as it passes with cutting out dairy, food; eating a BRAT diet of Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast or the use of over the counter drugs such as Imodium; if it is not a virus or food poisoning which has caused it.
- Is ongoing, persistent, prolonged or recurrent symptoms with cramp, bloating, pain
- It may occur infrequently or more frequently despite use of Anti-diarrhoeal and Antispasmodic drugs such as Imodium which have no difference to the symptoms as a maximum amount can be taken and more than this and the drug will not work any more than previously
- Requires medical advice due to lose of fluids and vital minerals and nutrients (especially dangerous to the young and elderly)
- Possible signal of the presence of a potentially serious internal digestive health problem
~ Why does it occur? ~
~ How do you cope with it? ~
~ Is there an effective treatment? ~
Food enters the mouth being broken down by teeth and enzymes in saliva which then goes down the food pipe entering the stomach leaving as a kind of lumpy porridge consistency into the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed into the blood for the body then the remaining undigested fibre enters the large intestine through the walls of this nutrients and water are absorbed but if this is too fast then water and nutrients are not correctly absorbed as such making a loose watery bowel movement when the stool released. The internal intestines continue to break down the food but something upsets the process so the intestinal muscles speed up the digestive process causing diarrhoea Imodium slows this down as does Peppermint tea which enables the intestinal muscles to contract or the sufferer will become ill from dehydration if the lost fluids are not replaced quickly.
There are inconclusive opposing views of the treatment by doctors and medical staff. One view by my local doctor would now say let the diarrhoea continue in order to flush out your system getting rid off the bad bacteria or whatever has caused the bout; ensuring that you drink plenty of fluids and Diaorlyte if required or ‘flat 7UP’ works just as well! This works for bouts caused by viral or food poisoning which need to be cleared out of your system. I have treated my children and myself with 7Up, camomile tea, peppermint tea, Cardamon pods boiled in a little Marigold vegetable stock and added with a little pasta shapes when recovering to give energy. While the opposing view is that diarrhoea is not your body’s natural way of cleansing or getting rid of bacteria or other ‘nasty things’ and therefore you must resolve the problem to ensure a speedier recovery rather than letting it take its natural course – this view promotes use of drugs to alleviate and doctors would use this to treat chronic diarrhoea as opposed to acute cases. In this case I have used Imodium however after 8 tablets it will not work, eliminate foods which have caused my bout; gluten, dairy, fruit, vegetables.
It takes a month to renew the lining of your intestines. Therefore if food has caused it, I would be very careful to not eat anything which may cause further problems. As the digestive system is highly tuned so a tiny change in the speed of the intestines process food can lead to an attack of diarrhoea as a result I have found that by trying to understand what is occurring in my body, then I can prevent or control a recurrent bout. However, when you suffer from chronic diarrhoea as I have you begin to decide that you are better removing what is causing the problem rather than continually taking drugs and having your life disrupted by it preventing holidays, events, outings, travelling when it is caused by food intolerance or allergy, a virus or bacteria; excess food, excess alcohol, a hormonal imbalance or a surge of adrenaline due to stress as I will go into more detail in the next paragraph.
~ When does it happens?~
These are a few of the cause, however it is important to note that everyone is different as some people will suffer while others do not appear to as their system has the opposite effect being constipated which is another topic altogether!
A common cause and the first to rule out often is Stomach bug/food poisoning which can be caused by a number of different viruses and bacteria infecting your bowel and give you diarrhoea; usually due to food that’s either contaminated, gone off, or not cooked properly such as rice, fish, chicken, cheese, dairy, kebabs, burgers etc. Rarer and more serious cases are caused by cholera or dysentery usually abroad.
It can be due to nerves and anxiety before a test, exam interview, wedding, travelling, extended periods of stress and tiredness causing mental stress. due to the adrenaline pumping around your body speeding everything up which upsets the rate and therefore balance of their digestive system leading to diarrhoea, the rate food passes through the digestive system; referred to as Performance Anxiety Diarrhoea (PAD).
Food intolerances commonly cause a bout of diarrhoea to the sufferer which can be triggered by a sensitivity to certain foods which you may have as a baby, child or develop later in life. The three most common food intolerances are:
- Gluten intolerance which is a sensitivity to a substance in wheat, barley and oats
- Lactose intolerance when you don’t have enough of the enzyme ‘lactase’ which digests milk sugar
- Allergic reactions especially to foods such as shellfish, soya, nuts, eggs, celery, acids
An over indulgence of eating and drink to excess especially at Christmas for some can easily irritate the lining of the gut; rich or spicy foods, too much alcohol, excess fibre and large amounts of acidic fruit or fruit drinks are the most frequent causes.
For women around or during menstruation seems to be a common experience diarrhoea once a month usually around the time your period or either side the reason being a hormonal imbalance resulting in your gut more sensitive than normal.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers experience diarrhoea as one of the symptoms and many will suffer at one time or other in their life sadly the doctors have no known cure or reason as a result it is extremely irritating both suffering and seeking to eliminate causes as the other symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea or constipation which make life extremely difficult to lead at times preventing moving, travelling, work, events, going out, relationships, friendships.
Travellers’ diarrhoea often but not always due to poor hygiene or contaminated food such as fruits and water; possibly triggered by the change in the climate or a different diet with foods your system is unaccustomed to digesting.
To prevent travellers’ diarrhoea follow these widely known precautions:
- Drink bottled, boiled or purified water – even in UK if you are a chronic sufferer or are pregnant; unless from a known clean drinking source in your, family or friends home
- Avoid salad, raw vegetables and unpeeled fruit– especially if pregnant even in UK to protect from Toxoplasmosis is an infection due to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii or this can cause stillbirth
- Avoid ice cubes, ice cream and unpasteurised milk – Listeria
- Avoid snacks from roadside vendors – unknown parasites, infections due to lack of hygiene and/or cleanliness
- Always make sure food is served piping hot – kills bacteria if over 75 degrees including serving in a hot dish on a carvary
- Avoid food exposed to flies or to the sun – even in UK this occurs in shops/stores; buy cheeses, cold meats, delicatessen, fish from Waitrose where covered and closed counter
- ALWAYS pack a diarrhoea remedy – I was in the Brownies and Girls Brigade and what I most remember is to ‘BE PREPARED‘
The main causes which I personally have found to cause severe and mild bouts of diarrhoea are:
- Iron supplements can cause this in some whilst some may suffer from constipation
- Steatorrhea is caused by a malabsorption of fats (pale, poorly formed, floating stools)
- Drugs especially anti-biotics (bio yogurts can aid to rectify this)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS
- Removal of any part of the small or large intestines
- Food intolerances, artificial sugars or additives
- Lack of sleep
Lastly, less common but a must to consider to rule out more so people over 50 are considered more of a risk of Bowel disease.
There are three types of bowel disease which also result in diarrhoea, as a result it is easy to overlook it and treat it as acute diarrhoea. It is therefore of the utmost importance and could save yours or someone else’s life if diarrhoea continues for more than a few days discuss with your doctor to rule these out as another phrase is ‘To be fore-armed is to be fore-warned’
The three types of bowel disease are; Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease and bowel cancer
Other symptoms associated with these diseases include; weight loss, blood in your motions and severe abdominal pain. These conditions are rare but serious and you should seek immediate professional medical advice if you think you are suffering from one of them.
However DO NOT PANIC – I have suffered these symptoms without having these conditions but been checked by the doctor.
~ How do you cope with it?~
- Seek medical advice if it continues for more than three days due to loss of fluids and nutrients
- Research your symptoms for ways to ease it if it is only diarrhoea. I have posted here herbal teas which help as does the BRAT – Bananas, rice/rice water, apples, toast with no dairy.
- If it is a food intolerance use an elimination diet
Elimination diet : http://sacollinsvogan.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/elimination-diet-to-find-out-intolerances/
Herbal teas : https://sharonac72.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/herbs-spices-aid-digestion-a-happier-inside-out-life/
~ Is there an effective treatment? ~
Personally, for me NO! The doctors have been unable to do anything for me, despite many appointments and investigative procedures.
I have found my way to live which works if within my diet and eliminate gluten, dairy, some fruits and vegetables has enabled me to live care for my family fairly easily, without too much discomfort and work.I have found that Alpro Soya Bio Dairy free Yogurt does enable my intestines to be more comfortable as does drinking enough water, camomile tea and peppermint tea as well as enough rest and less stress!
However it was a hurdle, to find the causes and proceed to cut out anything causing the symptoms and seek to maintain a stable weight and manage my symptoms. There are some symptoms like migraines and monthly effects which I cannot remove due to hormones,which are out of my control – I did see the doctor but they could only delay this and not remove it unless I removed reproductive organs. Although difficult to manage we have to somehow manage to live our life as best we can and consider that there are many people who have little food which helps me keep my ‘troubles’ in perspective.
Please comment or email me if I can further support you I am not a doctor just a concerned human being seeking to share to support and enable others or family and friends of those who may similarly struggle.