What are the Causes of Diarrhoea? Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Diarrhoea is a chronic condition of repeated bowel movements. The stools are characterised as loose and watery.  Around 2 billion people suffer from diarrhoea each year, all around the globe.  The condition can be mild, moderate or even life-threatening. In developing countries, around 1.9 million kids under the age of 5 years, died tragically of this disease. All one needs is to understand simple remedies to treat it in kids.

Causes of Diarrhoea

Many factors are speculated as the cause for this disease. However, it is commonly caused by a gut virus, known as stomach flu.

1. Caffeine

Drinks containing a high caffeine amount hold laxative potential. Having a three or four cup of coffee can be dangerous for personal health. In some sensitive instances, even a small amount of caffeine can be a trigger for diarrhoea.

2. Lactose

Some people turn out to be the victim of diarrhoea due to lactose intolerance.  The digestive system of these people is unable to digest the sugar present in dairy products.  A decent amount of enzyme, i.e. lactase, is required for such proper digestion.

3. Fructose

Fructose refers to the sugar found in fruits, as well as in soft drinks, candies, honey etc.  A high intake of fructose can result in diarrhoea.

4. Medication

Diarrhoea can be a result of side effect caused by certain medications.  There is around 700 medicines available which can cause diarrhoea. Some classes of such medicines are antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, heartburn medications, anti-neoplastic medication, etc.

5. Sanitation

In under-developed and developing countries, people are more prone to infectious diarrhoea. The condition in which people live there is a collection of poor houses, dirt floors and crowding. In some cases, faecal waste is dumped near the slums, making people living there more vulnerable to this disease.

6. Allergies

At times, intake of allergic food can lead to diarrhoea. Though, it is unlikely that food allergies can be resultant of chronic diarrhoea.  Due care shall be expanded, to keep a distance from allergic and eliminated food items.

7. Nutrition

Nutrition deficiency can be one of the triggers of diarrhoea. In various developing and under-developed countries, cases of zinc deficiency are identified among children. This deficiency hold a significant impact on the functioning of the immune system, thereby making a person more open and vulnerable to disease. Likewise, a deficiency in Vitamin-A also seems to have a cause and effect relationship with diarrhoea.

8. Surgeries

Diarrhoea can also be resultant from complication occurred in previously undergone surgeries.  Hence, if a person is a victim of chronic diarrhoea, the doctor usually inquires regarding intestinal operations in his medical history. Also, in most cases, this type of diarrhoea is treatable.

Symptoms of Diarrhoea

The presence of diarrhoea can be felt with an urgency of using the bathroom several times. The stools passed are characterised as loose and watery. The other symptoms accompanying this are-



-Stomach Pain





Generally, diarrhoea is a little inconvenience and goes away by its own. However, if in any case, a person is experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms for a period of more then three days, then medical help is necessary.

Traveller’s Diarrhoea

Traveller’s diarrhoea refers to an intestinal infection which is caused by contaminated food or water. The infection is caused by a bacteria called E.coli. It has been researched that the ratio of occurrence of traveller’s diarrhoea is much higher in developing and under-developed countries. People living in low sanitary places by not washing their hands after using the bathroom, contaminate the food. The type of exposure of the food decides the level of risk of infection.


-Onset Of Diarrhea



-Loss Of Appetite



Diagnosis of Diarrhoea

The first step taken by the doctor for diagnosis of diarrhoea is to inquire some critical questions related to it like

-How watery is the stool?

-is there any sign of fever?

-is there any dizziness?

-is the urge to use the bathroom, constant and severe?

-is there any sign of blood in diarrhoea?

-is the change happening after certain trip or vacation?

Besides this, the doctor may ask for conducting some tests, such as;

  • Stool Test

Under this, a sample of stool is taken by the doctor and then examined. The following is done to trace any parasite or bacteria responsible for the disease. Also, it helps in making conclusions regarding intestinal infection.

  • Blood Test

Under this, a sample of blood is taken by the doctor and thoroughly examined under various context. This ultimately helps in determining any kind of vitamin deficiency involved, having a cause and effect relationship with disease.

  • Colonoscopy

Under this procedure, a thin, lighted tube having a lens is used to look inside the colon. This is generally asked by the doctor when no other cause seems viably responsible for diarrhoea. With the help of this, the lining of the colon is examined, and biopsy is done, to get a crucial diagnosis towards the disease.

Prevention of Diarrhoea

It is quite impossible for a person to prevent himself being captured by certain types of diarrhoea. However, in other cases, with due care and wise steps, the disease can be prevented. Following points shall be taken in regard-

1. Sanitation

Several studies have shown that the mere act of washing your hands can prevent infectious diarrhoea. Hence, small improvements such as sewer connections, water filters, high quality piped water etc., can take us a long way in restricting this disease.

2. Vaccination

At times, the irresponsibility of avoiding vaccination of certain diseases can lead to diarrhoea at the life-threatening stage. Studies have shown that children who took Rotavirus Vaccine and cholera vaccine show a much higher level of resistance towards this disease. Hence, a little more awareness can make miracles spread around.

3. Breastfeeding

Studies have shown that those who received exclusive breastfeeding for their first six months of life, shows more resistance from chronic diarrhoea. A study in Brazil showed it was 14 times more likely that a non breastfed infant will die from diarrhoea as compared to the breastfed infant.

4. Other Points of Concern

-Always avoid having a meal from street vendors. There is no surety regarding the quality of food they serve, and their products don’t lie under any authorised regulatory control.

-Drink clean water. Make sure to check for any impurities involve. In case, you are travelling or on vacation, always choose a credible water bottle company. Also, avoid ice made out of tap water.

-Make sure that the meal you are having is fresh and properly cooked. Stay away from any uncooked and susceptible vegetable or fruit.

-Holdover hepatitis- A medication with you before travelling, if required in the context of the region.

Treatment of Diarrhoea

  • Medication

There are various anti-diarrheal medicines available over the counter, on prescription,-

-Imodium and Loperamide are used to facilitate the reduction of stool passage.

-Pepto Bismol is used for the treatment of diarrhoea in adults and children. It also aids in the treatment of traveller’s diarrhoea.

  • Probiotics

Probiotics are available in powder, capsules, liquids, and tablets. The effect of probiotics in the treatment of diarrhoea holds mix evidence. However, its efficiency cannot be ignored that it can facilitate in complete prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea. Also, probiotic can aid in the reduction of diarrhoea in children, within the time frame of a day. Though, there are numerous strains linked with the Probiotics. Ultimately, an individual shall go with the opinion of a doctor.

  • Oral Rehydration

Since diarrhoea is characterised by loose and watery stool. The body tends to lose a lot of water and eventually goes into a state of dehydration. To keep hydrated, the following points shall be kept in mind-

-Oral rehydration solution is highly promoted by the world health organisation. The solution contains salt and glucose, diluted in the form of water, helping the body to gain water and electrolytes lost in diarrhoea. The cost of oral rehydration solution is kept as minimum as possible in developing and underdeveloped countries.

– To aid children suffering from the severity of diarrhoea, zinc supplement shall be used to compensate for the loss of water in the body. Also, products like rehydrate and oralyte are readily available, over the counter, like oral rehydration products.

  • Nutrition

In diarrhoea, it is normal for the body to feel weak and exhausted. The constant urge of the body to pass stool cause a heavy loss of nutrition. To compensate the same, following points shall be reflected upon-

Meals and drinks in a high quantity of potassium shall be consumed. This will include bananas, fruit juices, etc

-Hydrate with clean and viable liquids constantly.

-It is best advised to consume water in- between the meals. Also, it is best to avoid the consumption of water during the intake of the meal.

-Meals and drinks in high sodium quantity shall be consumed. This will include sports drink, soups, etc.

-Any sugary, cream or fried food shall be avoided at all cost. It will worsen the severity of diarrhoea.

-After undergoing every loose stool, it is best to compensate that with hydration with an immediate follow-up.

These are some of the home remedies to take care of diarrhea.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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