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Diarrhea

Frequent, loose, and watery bowel movements. Common causes include gastrointestinal infections, irritable bowel syndrome, medicines, and malabsorption.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Diarrhea

Diarrhea is often the result of a viral, bacterial or other type of infection. Diarrhea is most commonly caused by rotaviruses. For mild diarrhea, it is often enough to simply drink plenty of fluids so you do not dehydrate, and wait for it to run its course. Diarrhea is quite common in babies and toddlers.

Very severe diarrhea can result in the loss of dangerously large amounts of fluids. Because of this, medical treatment is needed for severe diarrhea — especially when it affects small children or older people.

Symptoms

Someone is considered to have diarrhea if they have very loose or watery stools three or more times within 24 hours. Other symptoms may include bellyache and bloating (gas). Infections that can cause diarrhea sometimes also lead to nausea and vomiting... Read more about Diarrhea

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Probiotics for persistent diarrhoea in children

Persistent diarrhoea is defined as a diarrhoeal episode that starts acutely but then lasts for 14 days or more, and it is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in children under five years old in developing countries throughout the world. The cause of persistent diarrhoea is not completely understood but is likely to be complex; this in turn makes management of the condition difficult. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are similar to the normal bacteria found in a healthy gut. These so called friendly bacteria have been used in several studies to treat acute infectious diarrhoea with encouraging results. This review found four trials involving children with persistent diarrhoea. Two studies with a combined total of 324, showed that probiotics shorten the duration of diarrhoea and reduce the stool frequency on day‐5. One study (235 children) suggested that probiotics reduce the hospital stay. Three out of four trials reported that no adverse events occurred. However, this review is limited by few trials with small number of participants, and therefore may not represent a reliable estimate of probiotics' effect.

Antibiotic treatment reduces duration and severity of travellers' diarrhoea.

Using a pilot system we have categorised this review as: Current question ‐ update pending. (See "Published notes" section for an explanation).

Reduced osmolarity oral rehydration solution for treating dehydration caused by acute diarrhoea in children

Children with diarrhoea lose body water and sometimes become dehydrated. A solution of sugar and salt dissolved in water is widely used to treat dehydration caused by diarrhoea. This reviews shows that a solution of lower osmolarity than the current international standard means fewer children subsequently require an intravenous drip.

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Summaries for consumers

Infectious diarrhea: Can probiotics help against diarrhea?

Probiotics can make diarrhea go away about one day faster. Generally speaking, probiotic products – which mostly contain certain lactic acid bacteria – are well tolerated.

Probiotics for persistent diarrhoea in children

Persistent diarrhoea is defined as a diarrhoeal episode that starts acutely but then lasts for 14 days or more, and it is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in children under five years old in developing countries throughout the world. The cause of persistent diarrhoea is not completely understood but is likely to be complex; this in turn makes management of the condition difficult. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are similar to the normal bacteria found in a healthy gut. These so called friendly bacteria have been used in several studies to treat acute infectious diarrhoea with encouraging results. This review found four trials involving children with persistent diarrhoea. Two studies with a combined total of 324, showed that probiotics shorten the duration of diarrhoea and reduce the stool frequency on day‐5. One study (235 children) suggested that probiotics reduce the hospital stay. Three out of four trials reported that no adverse events occurred. However, this review is limited by few trials with small number of participants, and therefore may not represent a reliable estimate of probiotics' effect.

Antibiotic treatment reduces duration and severity of travellers' diarrhoea.

Using a pilot system we have categorised this review as: Current question ‐ update pending. (See "Published notes" section for an explanation).

See all (397)

More about Diarrhea

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Also called: Diarrhoea, Diarrhoeal, Diarrheal

See Also: Malabsorption Syndromes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastroenteritis

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