You can get diarrhea from the water
Diarrhea - when the bowel rebels
Medically called diarrhea, we speak of diarrhea when the stool is mushy to liquid and is stopped at least three times a day. Diarrhea can be acute, meaning it occurs suddenly, or it can be chronic if it lasts for more than two weeks. As a rule, diarrhea is an accompanying symptom: Our body reacts with it to an illness or other trigger. If diarrhea lasts longer, we usually feel miserable and exhausted.
There are several causes of diarrhea. Often there is a gastrointestinal infection with noro- or rotaviruses. These viruses are very contagious and spread quickly via smear and droplet infection. The bacteria Campylobacter and Salmonella can also cause diarrhea. They are usually transmitted through food, especially raw meat or meat that has not been sufficiently heated.
In addition to infectious causes, there may also be intolerance or allergies to certain foods. For example, lactose intolerance and gluten hypersensitivity are often associated with diarrhea. In addition, diarrhea is one of the most common side effects of medication. Antibiotics, antihypertensive agents and improperly used laxatives can cause this unpleasant effect.
Hygiene protects in everyday life
- Our hands often come into contact with germs and can easily transmit them. If we touch our mouth, nose or eyes with our hands, the pathogens can penetrate the body and cause infections. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and be careful not to touch your face as much as possible.
- Always wash vegetables and fruit - including organic products - thoroughly. You can use either running warm water or a water bath, which you can add a teaspoon of salt or apple cider vinegar to. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth without damaging the skin.
- Heat the minced meat, poultry, fish and eggs completely until they are no longer raw. This is how you safely kill possible pathogens.
- Especially on hot days, make sure to protect perishable foods such as meat, fish and dairy products when shopping. Transport your shopping in a cooler bag and put it away in the fridge at home as quickly as possible.
Diarrhea as a chronic condition
In rare cases, diarrhea can become chronic. The underlying disease is usually serious, such as a chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome or colon cancer. A hormonal disorder, for example caused by a thyroid disease, can be associated with frequent diarrhea. Another chronic form is the so-called paradoxical diarrhea, in which diarrhea alternates with constipation. Usually a tumor is the trigger: it narrows the intestine, so that the stool is repeatedly subjected to decomposition processes.
When it makes sense to go to the doctor
Diarrhea usually goes away on its own after a while. During the complaints, make sure you drink enough water and eat light foods to go easy on the stomach and intestines. If the symptoms persist for more than three days and are accompanied by fever, pain and blood in the stool, contact your doctor.
With diarrhea, the body loses large amounts of fluids and mineral salts, also called electrolytes. Since children and older people usually drink less, diarrhea can lead to dehydration, i.e. a dangerous lack of fluids, more quickly. A visit to the doctor can therefore make sense after just 24 hours for these age groups.
If you take medication regularly, ask your doctor about the right course of action at an early stage. Because diarrhea can mean that your medication is no longer completely absorbed by the intestines.
Diagnosis and treatment
Your doctor will first ask you how long the diarrhea has been going on, how often you have passed stool, what foods you have eaten, and what medications you are taking. He also clarifies existing illnesses or possible intolerances. This is followed by the physical exam, during which your doctor palpates your stomach and listens to the sounds of the bowels. Stool or blood tests can support the diagnosis.
Have you caught an infection and spent the last few days in bed sick? Then your doctor will treat you symptomatically. If a bacterial pathogen causes diarrhea, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic for you. So-called electrolyte solutions are suitable for replenishing the mineral balance. You can get these as ready-made preparations or drinking solutions in the pharmacy.
Tips for diarrhea: You can do this yourself
- With diarrhea, the water balance can lose up to three liters a day. It is therefore important to drink enough to prevent dehydration. Most of all, give preference to water and unsweetened tea. If you have severe diarrhea, drink up to three liters a day, preferably in small amounts evenly distributed throughout the day.
- To counteract a mineral deficit, you can prepare a suitable drinking solution yourself: Mix half a liter of boiled water with half a teaspoon of salt and five teaspoons of sugar. Taste the mixture with a little orange juice, for example.
- If you have diarrhea, eat light, stomach-friendly food as much as possible. Tender oat flakes, prepared as porridge, for example, are particularly recommended. Bananas and apples contain pectins, which bind toxins. Carrots, rusks and potatoes are also easy on the stomach and easy to digest.
- Vegetable or chicken broth with their contained minerals have a strengthening effect. You can also consume extra fluids through a soup meal.
- Stay away from cola and pretzel sticks! The high sugar content and caffeine in cola can make diarrhea symptoms worse. Pretzel sticks contain sodium - but they cannot fill up the empty potassium store.
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