What is diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea is an abnormal increase in the frequency, volume and liquidity of the stools. It may be either acute or chronic, and each has different causes and treatment methods. If left untreated, diarrhoea can be life-threatening, especially for young children.
Symptoms of diarrhoea include:
- Pain or cramping in the abdomen
- Urgent need to use the toilet
- Loose, watery stools
- Frequent bowel movement
- Weight loss
- Vomiting (in some cases)
How to prevent diarrhoea?
To prevent the spread of infections that cause diarrhoea, you should always maintain good general hygiene. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria that can cause diarrhoea. It is also important to practise good food and water hygiene especially while travelling abroad, such as avoiding potentially unsafe tap water and undercooked food.
Potential complications of diarrhoea
Diarrhoea lasting 4 weeks or more (whether continuous or intermittent) is known as chronic diarrhoea and can be a symptom of an underlying chronic disease or condition.
Chronic diarrhoea can lead to rapid dehydration, a condition that can occur when the body loses more water than it takes in, and your body doesn’t have enough water or other fluids to carry out its normal function. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in infants and children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
Most cases of diarrhoea clear up after a few days. However, if your diarrhoea is particularly persistent or severe, you should consult a gastroenterologist or go to the A&E department immediately.
Infographic reviewed by Dr Jarrod Lee, gastroenterologist at Parkway East Hospital
Infographic brought to you by Health Plus
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