Diarrhoea is a change in bowel habits associated with increased frequency and fluid bowel motions. It can either be acute or chronic.

Acute diarrhoea is generally associated with infection . Infective diarrhoea tends to occur in small outbreaks and simultaneously in a group of people who may have eaten the same food. It can produce a severe upset, with nausea, vomiting and fever and whilst upsetting, is over and done with quickly. During outbreaks of flu may have an associated outbreak of a viral caused diarrhoea which is generally mild and lasts 2 to 3 days.

Infective diarrhoea can be more serious and even life threatening such as infection with cholera or typhoid. Any diarrhoea which occurs during or after a visit to a foreign country should be treated more seriously and a doctor consulted. Other causes of acute diarrhoea which are not infective include drugs such as antibiotics, antacid stomach mixtures and laxatives. If diarrhoea occurs after the taking of a newly prescribed drug, then consult your doctor. Nerves for example during exam time or prior to a visit to your dentist can produce nervous diarrhoea as can certain foods such as excessive fresh fruit. These simple causes can all be sorted out with a quick relief of symptoms.

Chronic diarrhoea associated with weight loss and bleeding from the bowel suggests organic disease and should be thoroughly investigated by your doctor. Diarrhoea which lasts longer than 3 to 4 days and especially diarrhoea in a baby or child, should not be neglected, and your doctor consulted.

For simple uncomplicated diarrhoea, the treatment is starvation with bowel rest for 24 hours, sips of fluids (not milk products, fizzy drinks or fruit juices) to maintain fluid balance.

There are several electrolyte solutions available from your local pharmacist. These not only replace the fluid you have lost but also reduce diarrhoea.

You may have to take an anti-diarrhoea tablet or mixture to slow down the bowel irritation.

Infective diarrhoea may need antibiotics and nervous diarrhoea may necessitate a mild calming medicine.

Treatment for the more serious cases of diarrhoea will depend on the cause.

- Anaemia - Anaesthetics and Anaesthesia
- Anxiety - Arthritis
- Asthma - Backache
- Blood Pressure including Hypertension - Boils and Carbuncles
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Chronic Bronchitis
- Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex) - Colostomy and Ileostomy
- Constipation - Cramp
- Cystitis - Diabetes
- Diarrhoea - Earache
- Footcare - Gallstones
- Glandular Fever (Infectious Mononucleosis) - Gout
- Haemophilia - Headache
- Hepatitis - Hip Replacement
- Indigestion - Influenza
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- Migraine - Nose Bleeding
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- Spinal Injuries - The Common Cold
- The Overactive Thyroid Gland - The Underactive Thyroid Gland
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- Tonsillitis and Complications

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