An ailment characterised by abnormally frequent passage of loose or watery stools.
Persons most commonly affected: All ages and both sexes.
Organ or part of body involved: Digestive tract.
Symptoms and indications: Frequent passage of loose and watery stools. Accompanying symptoms of diarrhoea can include drowsiness, irritability, muscle cramps, headaches, fever, and fainting.
Causes and risk factors: Causes of diarrhoea are overeating or eating of wrong foods, bacterial infections consumed through contaminated food or water, viral infections, food intolerances as some people are unable to digest a component of food, such as lactose, the sugar found in milk, parasites that can enter the body through food or water and settle in the digestive system, reaction to medicines, such as antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and antacids may also cause diarrhoea.
Prevention: Though some types of diarrhoea, such as those due to other medical conditions, are unavoidable, infectious diarrhoea can be prevented. The most important way to avoid diarrhoea is to avoid coming into contact with infectious agents that can cause it. This means that good hand washing and hygiene are very important. Also, if you travel to developing countries, you should take the following precautions:
Drink only bottled water, even for tooth brushing; Avoid ice made with tap water, rather than bottled water; Eat only those fruit or vegetables that are cooked or can be peeled; Be sure that all foods you eat are thoroughly cooked and served steaming hot; and Never eat raw or undercooked meat or seafood. Drink plenty of fluids like water, diluted fruit and vegetable juices, electrolyte drinks, and broths. Avoids alcohol and smoking, which are too stimulating to the digestive tract.