Diarrhea On My Mind
I have had the diherra for over 3 weeks now. It came on all of sudden and nothing stops it I have tried everything to stop it and it won't go away. Help
-- Carolyn Gemill
Sorry for your problems. Here's the poop on the trots:
First of all, it is called "diarrhea." "Diherra" is probably fatal, so right away you should feel a lot better.
Diarrhea is loose, watery stools occurring more than three times in one day. It's a common problem that usually lasts a day or two and goes away on its own, without any special treatment, unless you are facing an important date or have a company-wide presentation coming up in the near future, in which case it will reach a crescendo at the worst possible moment, but will fortunately subside quickly once you have humiliated yourself in front of your date and/or co-workers.
Prolonged diarrhea can be a sign of other problems.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which means the body lacks enough fluid to function properly. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children and the elderly, so diarrhea must be treated promptly to avoid serious health problems. Dehydration cannot be controlled adequately with beer or wine (I know -- I've tried). Water, half-strength Gatorade, clear liquids, or Pedialyte (for children) work best.
People of all ages can get diarrhea. The average adult has a bout of diarrhea about four times a year.
Diarrhea may be caused by a temporary problem, like an infection; or a chronic problem, like an intestinal disease. A few of the more common causes of diarrhea are:
Bacterial infections. Several types of bacteria, consumed through contaminated food or water, can cause diarrhea. Common culprits include Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia coli. The more unpronounceable the name, the worse the diarrhea. I had Campylobacter once. Sounds sort of cute, like you would get it camping or something. Nope. I ate raw chicken on a dare in nursing school. Hospitalized for four days and lost fourteen pounds, all of which came directly from my anus.
Viral infections. Many viruses cause diarrhea, including rotavirus, Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, and viral hepatitis.
Food intolerances. Some people are unable to digest a component of food, such as lactose, the sugar found in milk.
Parasites. Parasites can enter the body through food or water and settle in the digestive system. Parasites that cause diarrhea include Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, and Cryptosporidium. My dog George has the shits all the time, and has been tested for every parasite known to man. His shit has everything in it but bacteria, parasites, and viruses. We are still mystified, but we've stopped taking him to the vet. I just give him Imodium. Cheaper.
Reaction to medicines, such as antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and antacids containing magnesium.
Intestinal diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease.
Functional bowel disorders. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for example, in which the intestines do not work normally. Some people develop diarrhea after stomach surgery or removal of the gallbladder. The reason may be a change in how quickly food moves through the digestive system after stomach surgery, or an increase in bile in the colon that can occur after gallbladder surgery.
In many cases, the cause of diarrhea cannot be found. As long as diarrhea goes away on its own, an extensive search for the cause is not usually necessary. Unless you are my vet, in which you can NOT get over the fact that you don't know what is causing a perfectly nice Doberman to have the runs all the time, and you will rest at nothing in your quest to empty my pocketbook in search of the answer.
People who visit foreign countries are at risk for traveler's diarrhea, which is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or, sometimes, parasites. Traveler's diarrhea is a particular problem for people visiting developing countries. Visitors to the United States, Canada, most European countries, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand do not face much risk for traveler's diarrhea. George the Doberman has never even been out of the yard, except to go to the vet for diarrhea.
But, dear Carolyn, I digress. We are talking about your problems, not mine.
Diarrhea can be either acute or chronic. The acute form, which lasts less than three weeks, is usually related to a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. Chronic diarrhea lasts more than three weeks and is usually related to functional disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or illnesses like celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
All of this boils down to treatment. In most cases, replacing lost fluid to prevent dehydration is the only treatment necessary. Medicines that stop diarrhea may be helpful in some cases, but they are not recommended for people whose diarrhea is from a bacterial infection or parasite -- stopping the diarrhea traps the organism in the intestines, prolonging the problem. Instead, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. Viral causes are either treated with medication or left to run their course, depending on the severity and type of the virus.
So, seeing as you have had the runs for three weeks and have tried everything, I think it is time for a visit to the doctor. Or, I can give you the name of my vet. The man LIVES to analyze stool.
Good luck, and thanks for asking Poonurse.
Poonurse is an RN with 25 years experience in labor and delivery. Her qualifications
include seeing a lot of poop, and owning a computer. Also, she works in Michigan, which she calls the asshole
of the universe, so that's another bit of credibility.
Got a question for her?