What is diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is the frequent passing of loose, watery and unformed stool.

What are the symptoms of diarrhoea?

As well as loose, watery stool, diarrhoea can include:

  • abdominal cramps and pains,
  • bowel urgency,
  • nausea, and
  • vomiting

Generally, they will resolve in a few days. However, if you experience any of the following, more serious, symptoms, you should speak to your doctor immediately:

  • blood or pus in the stool,
  • repeated vomiting,
  • reduced or absent urination, and
  • inability to increase fluid intake.

What causes diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can be caused by many things, including:

  • food poisoning,
  • infection, such as a bacteria, virus or parasite,
  • tropical diseases such as typhoid,
  • medications such as antibiotics, or
  • too much alcohol.

Longer term diarrhoea may be caused by:

  • coeliac disease ,
  • lactose intolerance,
  • other food allergies/intolerances,
  • IBD,
  • IBS,
  • diabetes or hyperthyroidism,
  • bowel cancer, or
  • chronic constipation.

What treatment options are available?

Your doctor will take your medical history to understand what is causing your diarrhoea before providing treatment options. They may also undertake some tests, such as blood or stool tests and colonoscopy.

Firstly, it’s important to stay hydrated with water, oral rehydration drinks, diluted fruit juice or, in severe cases, intravenous fluids. You may also need antibiotics (if the diarrhoea is caused by bacteria), anti-nausea drugs or anti-diarrhoeal medications.

Dietary adjustments can also help in acute cases. Your doctor will advise you, however the following are general suggestions:

  • limit fatty, sweet or spicy foods,
  • avoid alcohol and caffeine, and
  • increase starchy foods and yoghurt containing live cultures.

In chronic diarrhoea, where the cause is known, your doctor will help treat the condition that is causing your issues.

Find out more about diarrhoea

To find out more about diarrhoea talk to one of our gastroenterologists today.