Monday, January 16, 2012

When you really gotta go

“You do live longer with bran, but you spend the last fifteen years on the toilet”
-Alan King
I was surprised when I looked-up "Diarrhea" on WebMd and it described it as, "very common and usually not serious. Many people will have diarrhea once or twice each year." That may be true in America but in developing nations diarrhea has been the #1 cause of deaths in infants due to dehydration. Today campaigns to educate mothers about Oral Re-hydration Solution (a mixture of salts, sugar, and water) has knocked diarrhea down to the #2 slot for infant mortality with pneumonia as the current top killer.

I was also surprised by the once or twice a year claim. But then I suffer from irritable bowel syndrome which the article does mention as an exception. I learned that many things can cause diarrhea like chewing gum. Gum?!
"dietetic candy" or "chewing gum" diarrhea, in which a sugar substitute, such as sorbitol, is not absorbed by the body but draws water from the body into the bowel
Other causes include:
  • "Stomach flu": a virus that infects the gut, usually lasts for two days
  • Infection by bacteria (food poisoning)
  • Infections by other organisms
  • Eating foods that upset the digestive system
  • Allergies to certain foods
  • Medications
  • Radiation therapy
  • Diseases of the intestines
  • Malabsorption
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Some cancers
  • Laxative abuse
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Digestive tract surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Competitive running
  • Following constipation, especially for people who have irritable bowel syndrome [I'll vouch for that]

For a mild case, just let it run its course. Or use over-the-counter medicines like Pepto-Bismol, Imodium A-D, and Kaopectate. Follow the instructions on the package.

In addition, drink at least six 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day like fruit juice without pulp, broth, or soda (without caffeine), chicken broth (without the fat), tea with honey, and sports drinks.

Instead of drinking liquids with your meals, drink liquids between meals. Drink small amounts of fluids frequently.

Bottom Line
"Contact your doctor if you have prolonged diarrhea or a fever that lasts more than 24 hours. Also see your doctor promptly if vomiting prevents you from drinking liquids to replace lost fluids." - WebMD

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