No one likes it, no one wants it and no one expects yet. Yet diarrhea (loose stools) is actually the second most common disease of all reported in the US. The average adult suffers from diarrhea at least 4 times a year, with children suffering on average 7-15 times by the time they're 5. That's a significant amount. If you're suffering from diarrhea, then read this article to understand what causes loose stools and how you can manage this condition and even prevent it from happening again.
What Causes Loose Stools?
The colon usually absorbs most of the water in your fecal matter, which leaves you with soft, solid stool. However, sometimes simply eating the wrong foods, excessive stress, infections, digestive disorders or various medications can trigger diarrhea. Other times, diarrhea could just be a symptom of a more serious condition. now let's take a closer look at "what causes loose stools?"
Some kinds of bacteria, which are usually found where they can best multiply in numbers and breed on raw meat, eggs, and shellfish, are too overpowering and cause your digestive system to suffer.
A great way to reduce your chances of suffering from diarrhea is to properly cook those foods before consumption and to do it quickly. Make sure to put any leftover food in the refrigerator as soon as it cools down—don’t keep it at room temperature for longer than necessary. Also, when deciding to eat out, be sure to check and see that the restaurant you’re going to maintains a high level of food safety/cleanliness.
2. Viral Infection
Some viral infections can cause diarrhea and vomiting. These are very contagious and are usually passed on from one person to the other due to lack of proper hygiene or simply because one person was infected. Sharing drinks, utensils or contaminated food can bring this viral infection into the stomach.
Similar to bacteria contamination, general cleanliness and personal hygiene can help keep the virus under control and do not to drink or eat from the same cups/plates/utensils. It’s hard to tell if it was bacteria or a virus which caused it and if it was the latter, then it’s contagious. Either way, it will only usually last for about 2-3 days before disappearing.
3. Traveler’s Diarrhea
Depending on where you’re travelling to, anywhere from 30-70% of travellers will experience diarrhea/vomiting when traveling abroad due to contaminated water/food. If you’re travelling to a developing country, you are at a greater risk of contamination.
Be sure to drink only bottled water and wash any product with soap and bottled water before eating it. Even brushing your teeth is better to do with bottled water. Usually traveler’s diarrhea will disappear after 12 hours. If it persists, go to a doctor to make sure there isn’t any poisoning or some kind of larger virus that needs antibiotics to be cured.
It’s always ironic when a medicine can help cure you of one thing but ends up causing a different type of problem for you. Antibiotics that treat a certain type of condition and kill bad cells may also kill good cells which protect your digestive system. Some of these medications include: blood pressure medicine, antacids and cancer drugs.
If you’re on any type of medication and experience frequent diarrhea, call your doctor and let him know as ongoing diarrhea can cause a whole range of health complications you don’t want to get into.
5. Food Intolerance
Diarrhea can sometimes occur if your body has trouble digesting some foods like dairy products and artificial sweeteners. Having undigested food sit in your stomach for too long causes nausea, painful abdominal cramps, gas and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance affects nearly 50 million Americans, which can also cause diarrhea. Be sure to talk with your doctor about any supplements you can take which can help you digest dairy products more easily.
6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is, just as its name states, irritating. From cramping, bloating and pain in the abdominal region in addition to diarrhea, this condition can seriously affect a person’s life. Oftentimes, simple changes to your diet can control this condition.
7. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease is when your digestive tract becomes swollen and weaker, which makes it harder for it to absorb/send nutrients to your body. Medical attention should be sought to cure this condition.
8. Celiac Disease
Individuals with celiac disease are gluten intolerant, meaning that when they eat anything with gluten, their intestines weaken. Gluten is a type of protein found in barley, wheat and rye. If gone untreated, this condition can gradually destroy your intestines and their ability to absorb nutrients.
Home Remedies for Loose Stools
Now that you have know "what causes loose stools", it's time to find out how to deal with it and enjoy a better life.
1. Increase Water Intake
Water helps you replace any fluid you’ve lost during diarrhea. However, it doesn’t help you replace electrolytes which are the minerals that help you manage your body’s fluid levels and other important roles. To get those back, try to eat more soups, drink fruit juices and other fluids that help to rehydrate you. Don’t drink sports drinks to rehydrate yourself after diarrhea, as these contain a lot of sugars that can cause it to return.
2. Eat Safe Foods
When you’re already suffering from diarrhea, it’s best that you don’t eat foods that could further trigger your side effects. Instead, stick to safe foods like simple soups and broths then gradually add some carbs like rice, potatoes and bread.
3. Avoid “Risky” Foods
Since you’re sticking to safe foods, make sure you avoid risky foods like caffeine, sugar/sugar substitutes, and fried foods containing lots of saturated fats. You should also avoid spicy foods and dairy products, as well foods that cause a lot of gas like cabbage, beans and broccoli.
4. Wash Hands Frequently
If you have diarrhea it’s even more important to wash your hands more often. Make sure you wash them especially well after using the bathroom and before you eat. If you’re very uncomfortable, try to pass food preparation onto someone else in your family or order out, not only for your sake, but for theirs too as you could pass the condition onto them if you have some kind of virus.