Diarrhea is a prevalent health condition that most people suffer from at some point in their life. It can range from a mild and temporary condition to a rather severe and chronic one. Diarrhea often occurs due to gastrointestinal infections that can result from viral infections. Poor hygiene and contaminated food or drinking-water are the most common reasons for spreading infections.¹ However, there are also noninfectious causes of diarrhea, like lactose intolerance, food allergies and other digestive problems.²
While many people believe that mild or acute diarrhea should be left untreated, doing so can lead to unwanted repercussions. When suffering from diarrhea, the digestion process becomes too fast to allow for the large intestine to absorb the excess liquid, which can lead to dehydration and other issues.²
Here are reasons why you should treat diarrhea immediately instead of waiting for it to clear up on its own.
Symptoms of Acute Diarrhea
Diarrhea’s most manifest signs are the consistency, volume and frequency of passed stools. When suffering from diarrhea, stools are often watery and loose. Other common symptoms associated with diarrhea are nausea, fatigue, fever, vomiting and cramps.³
More severe symptoms include malnutrition, weight loss, severe abdominal pain or bloody stools. These can indicate chronic diarrhea or other serious underlying illnesses. In which case, one should seek professional medical help to identify and treat the problem.²
Diarrhea and Dehydration
Dehydration is one of the most dangerous complications of leaving diarrhea untreated. Constant fluid and electrolyte loss leads to dehydration, and in case of severe diarrhea it could lead to vascular collapse for very old or debilitated patients. Dehydration, meaning your body does not have enough water and fluids to perform its normal functions, can be life-threatening and should be treated immediately. Some signs of dehydration include dark urine, dizziness, vomiting, fever and excessive thirst.⁴
Treating dehydration necessitates drinking plenty of water in addition to other drinks that can replenish electrolyte levels (minerals such as sodium and potassium). Drinks like fresh fruit juices, sports drinks, soups and clear broths can help replenish lost salts and electrolytes.⁵ However, note that caffeinated and sweetened drinks can increase the symptoms of diarrhea.
Treating dehydration in children can include oral rehydration solutions and oral electrolyte solutions that contain dextrose, sodium and potassium to treat diarrhea in children and prevent dehydration. Treating severe diarrhea can also require fluids via intravenous therapy (IV).⁴
To prevent dehydration, it is vital to treat diarrhea immediately and also drink plenty of water and fluids before dehydration symptoms emerge.⁶
Malnutrition as a Result of Diarrhea
Diarrhea can negatively affect one’s nutritional status due to less dietary intake and intestinal malabsorption. As a result, malnutrition can occur when the body is not getting enough nutrients. Malnourishment symptoms include the inability to concentrate, loss of fat, muscle mass, and body tissue, lack of appetite and tiredness.⁷
Since the body loses nutrients that are necessary for its growth, when suffering from diarrhea, it is possible to experience a growth deficit. Therefore, diarrhea should be treated immediately before it undermines nutritional health or leads to unintentional weight loss. In addition to diarrhea treatment, dietary management will be essential in cases of malnutrition.⁸
Efficient Acute Diarrhea Treatment
Like any other health condition, diarrhea should be adequately treated using an efficient treatment. Treating mild or acute diarrhea may require using an antidiarrheal medication that contains Loperamide like IMODIUM®.⁹ Taking IMODIUM® enables your body to start absorbing fluids, salts, and nutrients as it normally would, helping restore the gut’s natural functions. Learn more about how IMODIUM® helps bring back the rhythm to your body to help you avoid dehydration or any other unnecessary complications.¹⁰
Visit our FAQ section for more information about diarrhea and how IMODIUM® can help you treat and manage it.
3. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diarrhea... - November 2016
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791660/ - September 2003
5. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/nutritional/dehydration - February 2020
6. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diarrhea... - November 2016
7. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/malnutrition/symptoms/ - 7 February 2020
8. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/malnutrition/treatment/ - 7 February 2020
9. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/loperamide/ - 9 February 2018