Abdominal cramps, bloating, fever, abdominal pains, frequent, loose or watery stools, blood and/or mucus in the stools.
The above are all possible signs and symptoms associated with diarrhea.
Diarrhea can occur in adults as well as toddlers and children. It is a one of the foremost causes of childhood deaths especially in developing countries.
The World Health Organisation estimated that 80% of deaths due to diarrhoea occur in the earliest years of life (first two years of life).
In developing countries, children less than 3 years of age experience about three episodes of diarrhea each year.
Also, in many countries diarrhea and other water/food borne diseases are note-worthy causes of death among older children and adults.
From the above evidence we can now see that when diarrhea occurs it should not be taken for granted.
It can occur as a result of the following
1. Type and/or quality of food ingested
2. Certain infectious disease states such as amebiasis and cholera.
3. Reaction to certain medications such as weight loss drugs,
4. Intolerance or allergies to foods such as sugar, laxative abuse, radiation therapy and exercise such as running.
That begs the question, seeing how life-threatening a case of diarrhea is, what can one do when it occurs in the middle of the night when you cannot visit a health care facility or where there is no healthcare professional?
It’s important to note that treatment of diarrhea depends on the cause.
Common home remedies for Adults include;
– Drinking plenty of fluids (3 Liters of Oral Rehydration Solution) prevent dehydration
– Avoid milk and fatty foods
– Follow the “BRAT” diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) if available at home.
– If diarrhea is accompanied by nausea, the person should suck on ice chips until the nausea stops.
– Avoid exercises
After the diarrhea subsides it is recommended that alcoholic beverages and spicy foods be avoided for two additional days.
For toddlers and children;
Diarrhea in toddlers and children pose great risk for dehydration, therefore
they should be offered an oral rehydrating solution (ORS) soon (usually after 2-3 stools)
Babies should be given breast milk more often.
The BRAT diet should also be encouraged.
In the case of an emergency, a home-made ORS can be made by dissolving 6 level teaspoons of sugar and ½ level teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 Liter of clean or purified water. Be cautious to mix the correct amounts.
Too much sugar or salt can be harmful to the child. In addition making the solution more diluted is not harmful.
Do well to see the doctor as soon as you can especially if symptoms continue.
Greatman Adiela Owhor (B.Pharm UPH)