Diarrhea is an intestinal problem that involves one or the other of the following three mechanisms. Sometimes they are present at the same time.
-A lack of absorption by the intestines of the liquid contained in the stool;
-Accelerated intestinal transit, which prevents fecal matter from drying up;
-An abnormal passage of water and mineral salts from the body through the wall of the intestines.
When an intestinal disease is involved, diarrhea is often chronic.
Here are the most common causes:
- Food poisoning (for example, poultry infected with salmonella or meat contaminated with Escherichia coli bacteria);
- A viral gastroenteritis;
- Stress or anxiety
- The taking of antibiotics: it alters the intestinal flora, and thus reduces the absorption capacity of the wall of the intestines. Antibiotics cause diarrhea in 5 to 30% of users, depending on the type of antibiotic consumed;
- Chronic intestinal disease: Celiac disease (gluten intolerance), Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.;
- intolerance to lactose;
Cholera can cause losses of 10 liters of diarrhea per day. It is however very infrequent in the industrialized countries.
Consult a doctor as soon as possible if any of the following signs appear.
- Very abundant diarrhea (more than 10 stools per day) that persists more than 48 hours;
- Signs of dehydration, especially in a young child or elderly person (see below);
- A fever of 38.5 º C (101.5 º F) or more;
- blood in the stool;
- Severe abdominal pain
- Chronic diarrhea.
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