Last week we had a presentation on diarrhea given by one of our wonderful gastric specialists. It had to be one of the best presentations we have ever had as Dr. De Mucha shared basic, but very important information on this not-very-popular-subject (although it certainly doesn’t prevent people from stopping me and regaling me with their bowel habits regardless of where I am). I thought I would put some of the highlights in an article. There is way too much self-diagnosing out there!
Diarrhea is not an illness, it is a symptom.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which can be life-threatening if untreated. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
The use of balanced electrolyte rehydration over other oral rehydration options in the elderly with severe diarrhea or any traveler with cholera-like watery diarrhea is recommended.
Stool diagnostic studies may be used if available in cases of dysentery, moderate-to-severe disease, and symptoms lasting more than 7 days to clarify the etiology of the patient’s illness and enable specific directed therapy.
The use of probiotics or prebiotics for treatment of acute diarrhea in adults is not recommended, except in cases of post-antibiotic-associated illness.
See a doctor if you feel ill, have bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain or diarrhea lasting more than 48 hours.
If your poop is like hard pellets that resemble jelly beans or nuts or firm and shaped like a lumpy, nut-filled candy bar, it may indicate that you are dehydrated and constipated. Drink more water and increase your dietary fiber intake.
If your poop looks like corn on the cob or sausage with surface cracks or shaped like a snake with a smooth, soft surface then congratulations! You are doing fine! Good work!
If your poop is soft with clear cut edges, resembling chicken nuggets, or mushy like pudding or soft edges or watery with no solid form, then these can indicate a low soluble fiber diet intake, imbalanced “friendly” bacteria and/or a gastrointestinal disorder. If the condition persists, please consult your physician.
Diarrhea can be caused by numerous items: viruses, bacteria (food poisoning), parasites, medications, lactose intolerance, fructose, artificial sweeteners, surgery, and other more specific digestive disorders.
One of the best points Dr. De Mucha made was regarding lactose intolerance. He said that “milk is for babies” so as people grow up, they become intolerant to lactose. He used the example that of course, puppies drink their mother’s milk. When you give a grown dog milk, they nearly always get diarrhea. Makes sense, no?
There is no need to take the “preventative” anti-parasite medication that seems to be very popular around here. If you think you have parasites, then do a stool study and go from there. In addition, the anti-parasite medication might not “kill” specific parasites that you might have anyway. These meds are very hard on the liver. Add a few cocktails and boom!
Here’s to a first-class week!