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The Signs and Symptoms of Diarrhoea

The Signs and Symptoms of Diarrhoea

The Signs and Symptoms of Diarrhoea can be elaborate in such a manner that the normal faeces is solid in consistency but moist and easy to pass from the GIT. Normal bowel openings range from 1-3 times per day depending on the individual. But when there is diarrhea the stool becomes watery or semi-solid and the frequency is also increased to more than 3 per day.

Definition: Diarrhea or Diarrhoea is the passing of frequent, watery stools OR Diarrhoea is also defined as frequent discharge of semi-solid or liquid faecal matter from the bowels.

Types of Diarrhoea

Diarrhea is divided into Acute and Chronic diarrhea.

  1. Acute diarrhoea: Acute diarrhea lasts only for few days and clears up and it is usually not serious. Acute diarrhoea can however be serious in child and the elderly because of their fragile nature.
  2. Chronic diarrhoea: Chronic diarrhoea can last for weeks and is usually indicative of an underlying problem. The cause should therefore be investigated and treated accordingly.


Diarrhoea affects all ages, but it is commoner among babies/infants who are fed with artificial milk.

Mode of Transmission

Diarrhoea is spread through the oro-faecal route. It can be spread through ingestion of foods and water contaminated by the faecal matter of someone who has diarrhea (especially if caused by bacteria or viruses). Infective organisms can be deposited on ones food by housefly where there is no proper hygiene.

Causes of Diarrhoea

  1. Infection: Infection by bacteria such as Salmonella Typhimurium, E. coli, or viruses such as Herpes Simplex and hepatitis virus can cause diarrhoea.
  2. Laxatives: Laxatives produce increase in peristalsis thereby bringing about diarrhoea.
  3. Chemicals: Ingestion of certain chemicals can lead to diarrhea e.g. Lead (found in toys and paints)
  4. Antibiotics: The use of antibiotics for the treatment of other diseases can produce diarrhoea as a side effect.
  5. Food: Food that has excessive roughage can also increase peristalsis and lead to diarrhoea. Vegetables and fruits when consumed in high quantity can particularly produce diarrhoea.
  6. Anxiety: anxiety or emotional stress increases the discharge of adrenaline in the bloodstream. This in turn accelerates metabolic processes and increases peristalsis. This leads to diarrhea.
  7. Other reasons of diarrhoea include use of excessive alcohol, coffee, sweets and spicy foods.
  8. Worm infestation
  9. Irritable bowel syndrome
  10. Bowel cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

  1. Passage of frequent, watery stool
  2. Nausea or vomiting
  3. Anorexia
  4. Abdominal cramps/pain
  5. Bloated tummy
  6. Headache
  7. Fever
  8. Sunken eyes/fontanelles in children
  9. Thirst
  10. Dryness of the tongue, lips and mucous membranes
  11. Concentrated and scanty urine
  12. Weakness/fatigue.
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