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What is Diarrhea?

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Diarrhea 2Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide.

Diarrhea can be caused by many different factors. It can be triggered by bacterial infections, viral infections, parasitic infections and even medicine or drug-induced diarrhea. Read more about causes of diarrhea.

Common symptoms of diarrhea are frequent loose, watery stools, abdominal cramps, abdominal pain, blood in the stool, fever, bloating. When you have constipation, the body is likely to lose a lot of fluids, especially with watery diarrhea. Read more about bloody diarrhea.

The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. In 2009 diarrhea was estimated to have caused 1.1 million deaths in people aged 5 and over and 1.5 million deaths in children under the age of five. Oral rehydration salts and zinc tablets are the treatment of choice and have been estimated to have saved 50 million children in the past 25 years.

Worldwide in 2004 approximately 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea were occurred which results in 1.5 million deaths among children under the age of five. Greater than half of these were in Africa and South Asia. This is down from a death rate of 5 million per year two decades ago. Diarrhea remains the second leading cause of death (16%) after pneumonia (17%) in this age group.

The following types of diarrhea may indicate further investigation is needed:

•        In infants

•        Moderate or severe diarrhea in young children

•        Associated with blood

•        Continues for more than two days

•        Associated non-cramping abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, etc

•        In travelers

•        In food handlers, because of the potential to infect others;

•        In institutions such as hospitals, child care centers, or geriatric and convalescent homes.

Generally, diarrhea resolves itself after two or three days, it often resolves totally within one or two weeks. However, if we know the ways to help reduce its effects, it will be resolved more quickly. Find more information about home remedies for diarrhea.

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