What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a common disease that causes loose and watery stools. Although it’s not a critical disease sometimes the situation may worsen.
Diarrhea is defined as three or more loose motions or watery stools a day. Infection commonly causes acute diarrhea. Noninfectious etiologies are the common elements when the duration of diarrhea becomes chronic.
Types & Symptoms of Diarrhea
Reduced water absorption by the bowel promotes diarrhea. Increased water secretion is also known as diarrhea. Diarrhea is two types acute & chronic diarrhea.
If you are wondering about watery diarrhea and looking for the answer to “What causes watery diarrhea”, you are in right place.
Acute diarrhea is the most common type of diarrhea observed among adults. Although it’s not harmful to adults it can be deadly for children.
Children’s death took place because of dehydration. According to studies every year, numerous children in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) die from acute diarrhea (1).
Causes, Types & Symptoms of Acute Diarrhea
There are multiple factors behind acute diarrhea. Any one of these factors may cause acute diarrhea.
Aeromonas species are inhabitants of aquatic environments worldwide, including rivers and lakes as well as drinking water plants and distribution systems.
Drinking Aeromonas-rich water is the most common reason behind acute diarrhea.
Symptoms of Aeromonas Acute Diarrhea
Frequent loose stool
Abdominal cramps (two-third of affected people have this symptom)
Additional symptoms are observed in 40% of aeromonas acute diarrhea patients
Campylobacter species are microaerophilic organisms responsible for zoonoses. It is found in poultry, cattle, sheep, and pigs.
Campylobacter Infection Symptoms
Signs and symptoms may vary from patient to patient in case of this type of acute diarrhea. The common symptoms are fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea(watery stools).
Also, the stools may be with or without blood and fecal white blood cells.
Escherichia Coli Infection
E. coli organisms are found in the intestinal tract of healthy people. It may be a possible reason behind acute diarrhea.
Several E. coli serotypes are responsible for mild non-bloody and bloody acute diarrhea (3). Ground beef is considered the major vehicle of transmission of E.coli.
Also, transmission can happen through raw milk, sausage, apple cider, and raw vegetables, and non-chlorinated water supply. Aside from this person-to-person transmission also happens.
Sometimes your poop becomes green during this type of diarrhea. Frequent stomach pain is also common. It’s known as green diarrhea and stomach pain.
Symptoms of E.Coli Diarrhea
This type of acute diarrhea is most common in travelers. It’s also called travelers diarrhea. E.coli diarrhea common symptoms are
- Mild watery diarrhea
- Abdominal cramps
- No vomiting
- No fever
- No blood in stools
But in low middle-income countries, the symptoms slightly differ. The additional symptoms are
- Prolonged evolution
The vast majority of human acute diarrhea infections are due to strains of Salmonella enterica subspecies I. It is found in warm blood animals, not in cold blood animals.
The enteritidis serotype is mainly associated with animal foods like chicken, pig, and egg products.
Symptoms of Salmonella Infection Acute Diarrhea
- Loose motion
- Abdominal cramps
This type of diarrhea lasts for an average of one week.
Shigella( dysenteriae, flexneri, boydii and sonnei) are also responsible for acute diarrhea. Shigella spp is found in humans only.
The transmission of this type of infection is caused by direct contact from person to person and by contaminated water and food. Sexual transmission between homosexual males is also possible.
Shigella Infection Diarrhea Symptoms
Shigella infections are responsible for bacillary dysentery. The common symptoms of shigella infection acute diarrhea are bloody diarrhea accompanied by fever and abdominal cramps.
The scant stools of this diarrhea contain mucus, pus, and blood.
Tropheryma Whipplei Infection
Tropheryma whipplei is an etiologic agent of mild gastroenteritis and diarrhea in children (4). It was not observed in asymptomatic children.
This Tropheryma whipplei is one of the most common reasons behind diarrhea and stomach pain in child.
However, the DNA of Tropheryma whipplei was detected in the stools of symptomatic children. Adults also may be affected with T. whipplei diarrhea.
Symptoms of Tropheryma Whipplei Infection Acute Diarrhea
- Mild diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in stools(major cases)
Vibrio species are found ubiquitously in aquatic environments. These are classified as responsible for trauma-related, extraintestinal infections and intestinal infections with diarrhea.
Vibrio species are found in freshwater rivers and lakes as well as in estuarine and maritime environments.
These species are also responsible for cholera. Most patients with cholera have asymptomatic or self-limited diarrhea.
Another Vibrio species is responsible for seafood diarrhea. This occurs after the consumption of raw seafood. Eating raw fish or shellfish also causes acute diarrhea.
Vibrio Acute Diarrhea Symptoms
Normal symptoms result in severe diarrhea and large volumes of ‘rice water stools’ and dehydration. This causes loss of skin elasticity, watery eyes, painful muscle cramps, and anuria. Dehydration may also lead to hypovolemic shock and even death.
It also causes
Bloody stools(rare cases)
Excess water in stools
Seafood vibrio species are responsible for watery diarrhea. It may rarely cause bloody diarrhea and in extreme cases severe dehydration and death.
Yersinia enterocolitica is found in the gastrointestinal tract of numerous animals, most commonly swine, dogs, and rodents. These organisms grow rapidly at cold temperatures.
This species is responsible for gastroenteritis and diarrhea. Consumption of contaminated water and food, mainly poorly cooked swine meat leads to acute diarrhea.
Yersinia infection may outbreaks of gastroenteritis after consumption of contaminated fresh fruit and vegetables.
Yersinia Infected Acute Diarrhea Symptoms
- Mild watery diarrhea(common symptom)
- Stomach pain
For severe cases(immediate doctor consultation required) symptoms include
- Bloody bowel movements
- Abdominal distension
- Toxic appearance
- Decreased urinary output
Another additional symptom is green poop. Green vegetables exit through your poop and sometimes make your stools green.
Also, your abdominal section hurts during poop. Because of this green diarrhea and stomach pain took place.
10 Additional Reasons for Acute Diarrhea
There are another 9 reasons for acute diarrhea also. These reasons are also important to remember during the diagnosis of acute diarrhea.
Listeria monocytogenes promote acute diarrhea. One study indicated that eating fish and travel may be associated with L. monocytogenes acute diarrhea (5).
Rotaviruses are RNA viruses. This virus is found in both humans and animals. Human rotaviruses are responsible for severe acute diarrhea and dehydration.
These are associated with childhood death in low- and middle-income countries. Children with rotavirus-positive acute gastroenteritis may have lethargy, fever, vomiting, and dehydration symptoms.
Rotavirus infection increases in the winter and spring seasons. The most common symptoms include acute diarrhea for 2–3 days, fever, vomiting, and anorexia.
Calicivirus and Norovirus Infections
These are also RNA viruses found in humans and animals. The viruses found in humans cause acute diarrhea. These viruses are found in contaminated surfaces, water, and food.
Norovirus infection outbreaks most commonly occur in daycare centers where child vomiting can readily contaminate floors and fomites. This infection can occur in flights and cruise ships.
Also, these viruses are resistant to routine cleansing and routine alcohol hand hygiene.
These RNA viruses are mainly responsible for acute diarrhea in children. These viruses are responsible for 2–10% of pediatric cases of worldwide acute diarrhea.
Astrovirus Infections are also responsible for diarrhea and stomach pain in child.
Enteric Adenovirus Infections
These viruses contain DNA and are responsible for human infections. Only two serotypes out of 51 of these viruses have been clearly demonstrated to be agents of acute diarrhea.
Clinical evidence showed a higher prevalence in children less than 4 years of age. The mean duration of acute disease is 5–10 days in this case.
This duration is longer than other acute diarrheas caused by other viruses. Also, prolonged diarrhea has been observed in immunocompromised patients.
Coronavirus, Torovirus, Aichivirus & Cardiovirus
Studies have shown that coronavirus is an agent of diarrhea in animals (6). It is found in the stools of patients with diarrhea.
Torovirus is also responsible for acute diarrhea and human gastroenteritis.
Aichi virus is also responsible for acute diarrhea in humans. Cardiovirus has also been detected in the stools in 1.2% of patients with acute enteritis.
Chronic Diarrhea Reason & Symptoms
Chronic diarrhea means loose or watery stools. It occurs three or more times within 24 hours of time. This diarrhea lasts for 4 or more weeks.
Also, chronic diarrhea decreases stool consistency.
Chronic diarrhea contains three groups; watery, fatty (malabsorption), or infectious.
Watery Chronic Diarrhea
Watery diarrhea is behind increased water secretion into the intestinal lumen. Lactose intolerance is the most common type of watery diarrhea.
Enzyme lactase helps to break the lactose in the intestine.
The epithelial cells absorb these byproducts. Absence or decrease of lactose halts this absorption process. Because of this, it stays in the gut lumen.
As a result, the osmotically active lactose retains and attracts water leading to watery diarrhea.
Symptoms of Watery Chronic Diarrhea
Frequent water-rich loose stools are the main symptom of watery diarrhea. Bloating and flatulence are also common symptoms observed in watery diarrhea patients.
Celiac disease and chronic pancreatitis are responsible for fatty diarrhea. Breakdown of food is not possible without enzymes.
The human pancreas releases these enzymes. These enzymes promote the digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
The broken products are available for absorption in the gut. Chronic pancreatitis patients have insufficient enzyme release. This deficiency leads to digestion issues and fatty diarrhea.
The Symptoms of Fatty Diarrhea
- Upper abdominal pain
- Smelly poop
- Bulky and pale stools
- These symptoms took place due to the malabsorption of fats.
It is bacterial and viral diarrhea. Bacteria and viruses damage the gut epithelium which leads to watery stool.
Intestinal epithelial cells act as the surface of the intestinal epithelium. These cells are important for the absorption of water, electrolytes, and other solutes.
Bacterial and virus infection in damage to the epithelial cells. Increased intestinal permeability occurs because of this infection.
As a result water absorption fails in the damages epithelial cells. This leads to loose stool. That’s why this type of diarrhea is known as infectious diarrhea.
Infectious Chronic Diarrhea Symptoms
The common symptoms of this type of diarrhea are the same as other types.
- Abdominal pain
- Watery stool
It may lead to some more symptoms for serious patients. These are
- Bloody stools
- Mucus in stools
Foods & Drinks That Stop Diarrhea
Multiple foods help to fight diarrhea. These foods may also aids to recover from diarrhea.
Low fiber foods may aid in making stool firmer. These foods may improve diarrhea patient condition by making stools hard and dense.
A bland ‘BRAT’ diet is also helpful for diarrhea. These foods include bananas, toast, oatmeal, white rice, applesauce, soup, and broth may improve symptoms.
Natural drinks like diluted fruit juice also help to boost fluids in the body during diarrhea. Rehydration drinks i.e Pedialyte or Gatorade are most commonly used to deal with dehydration.
When to Consult A Doctor
You should consult a doctor whenever
- Diarrhea continuing more than 36 hours
- Stools become whitish
- Bloody bowel movements
- Abdominal distension
- High-grade fever for more than 2-3 hours
- Decreased urinary output
- Skin infection and become itchy & dry
- Severe abdominal pain with headache
Diagnosis of Diarrhea
Doctors go through several processes for the diagnosis of diarrhea. Before starting the tests doctors go through medical and family history and foods/drinks taken by the patient.
This process includes
- Duration of diarrhea
- Stool passed during diarrhea(how much poop during the disease)
- Stool color, consistency
- If there is any previous history of diarrhea
- Food allergy status of the patient
- Recent travel history and contact with other sick people
- Medical history and medicines are taken by the patient
- If anyone from the family has chronic or acute diarrhea
Upon completion of these steps, doctors go through physical examinations. Following tests are done to find the actual reason for diarrhea.
- Stool PCR test to identify viruses, bacteria, or parasites. PCR test helps to detect the DNA and RNA of pathogens.
- Blood sample test to check diarrhea-causing diseases and disorders.
- Colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy are done to inspect the body. These tests are done to identify any abnormality behind diarrhea.
- A hydrogen breath test may also be done to find lactose intolerance.
- The fasting test is an optional test. It is done very rarely to find if certain food allergies are causing diarrhea.
Almost all diarrhea is cured with a few days. For critical cases, home remedies do not work. In this condition, doctors start medications. These include
Antibiotics: Doctors suggest antibiotics for bacteria or parasite-related diarrhea. However, antibiotics will not work for viral diarrhea.
Fluid Replacement: Doctors recommend salts and electrolytes-rich drinks, fruit juices. These drinks help to make patients’ bodies rehydrate.
Medication change: If nothing works doctors may change the medication to cure diarrhea.
Foods to Avoid During Diarrhea
There are some foods and drinks which may worsen the condition during diarrhea. These foods and drinks are as follow
- Apple juice
- Artificial sweeteners
- Dairy products
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fried foods
- Greasy foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Raw and uncooked meat
- Raw oysters
Home Remedies for Diarrhea and Stomach Pain
If you are looking for the answer to “what to eat with diarrhea and stomach pain” these home remedies may help you feel better during diarrhea. Also, these home remedies may reduce your stomach pain.
- Drink 3-4 glasses of electrolyte drinks every day.
- Drink 1 cup of liquid every time after a loose bowel movement.
- Eat 7-8 small meals throughout the day.
- Consume pretzels, soup, broth, and caffeine free sports drinks.
- Eat potassium rich foods, such as bananas, potatoes without the skin, and fruit juices.
- Eat hot, well-cooked foods.