Diarrhoea is the most common health complaints.It can range from a mild temporary condition to a potentially life threatening one. In developing countries ,it is second leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 years.
Diarrhoea is characterized by abnormally loose or watery stools 3 or more times a day or more frequent than usual.
If a person frequently passes stools but they are of a normal consistency ,this is not diarrhoea. Breastfed babies often pass loose ,sticky stools ,this is normal.Diarrhoea occurs when the lining of intestine is unable to absorb fluid or it actively secretes fluid. In any case of diarrhoea it is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
• Painful abdominal cramps
• Generalized weakness
Diarrhoea could have some more serious symptoms also –
• Blood or pus in the stool
• Persistent vomitting
• Infectious diarrhoea is most commonly caused by viruses passed from person to person or by eating or drinking food or water contaminated viruses , bacteria – such as salmonella or parasite such as cryptosporidium.
• A change in diet.
• Food intolerance e.g. lactulose intolerance ,fructose intolerance
• Drinking excess of alcohol
• Malabsorption of food
• Surgery concerned with bowel movements
• Medications like some laxatives , antibiotics etc.
Diarrhoea in very young children is often caused by viral infection. Rotavirus infections are a common cause ,this risk can be reduced by Rotavirus vaccine.
• Rehydration –
For all cases of diarrhoea , maintenance of hydration of body is very important. Oral Rehydration Solution( ORS ) or salts refers to water that contains salt and glucose .The small intestine absorbs the solution to replace the water and electrolytes lost in the stool. Zinc supplements may also reduce the severity and duration of diarrhoea in children.
• Anti diarrhoeal medications –
Anti motility medicines can help slow down the diarrhoea. Some examples are loperamide ,diphenoxylate and atropine ( lomotil).
• Antibiotics –
Antibiotics can only treat diarrhoea due to bacterial infections.
• Diet –
* Drinking on clear fluids such as electrolyte drinks ,water or fruit juice without added sugar.
* Eating foods high in soluble fibre such as banana , oatmeal and rice ,as these help thicken the stool.
* Consume high sodium and potassium foods and liquids such as diluted fruit juices ,potatoes ,banana ,soup.
* Limiting foods that may make diarrhoea worse such as creamy ,fried ,high dairy and sugary foods.
• Probiotics –
They may help prevent traveler’s diarrhoea and also good for diarrhoea in children.
Most serious complication of diarrhoea are Dehydration and Malabsorption.
• Drinking clean and safe water only.
• Having good sanitation system such as waste water and sewage.
• Having good hygiene practices such as regularly washing hands with soap while preparing foods , eating and after using washroom.
• Educating oneself on the spread of infection.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurveda , diarrhoea is called Atisaar. It is related to jatharagni mandhya ( low digestive fire ) improper food ,impure water , toxins and mental stress usually causes Atisaar. Aggravated vata pulls down the fluid part from various tissues of the body and brings it into the intestine .There this fluid mixes with the stool which then leads to loose , watery motions.
Line of treatment –
Treatment of diarrhoea aims at complete removal of ama and the vitiated doshas.
• Shaman chikitsa –
This can be done by complete fasting or eating limited or less quantity of food ,which helps the body to digest ama ,thus removing the root cause of the disease.
Pachana & Deepana –
Digestives and hunger increasing foods strengthen the digestive fire ,thus helping the body to get rid of ama faster.
Once the ama is digested ,stambhana is given to stop diarrhoea.
• Shodhana Chikitsa –
In diarrhoea treatment ,it is necessary to remove all the ama from the body completely. Medicines and herbs are not recommended in the initial treatment of diarrhoea as incomplete removal of ama can further complicate the disease. Virechana aims to remove the ama completely. Virechana is done using Haritaki or pippli.
Asthapana and picha basti helps to reduce intestinal motility thus reducing the frequency of stools.
Beneficial Herbs –
• Haritaki –
It is primarily given to induce purgation so as to remove all the ama that is accumulated in the body.
• Bilwa –
It has antibacterial activity ,hence it helps in removal of enterotoxins that produces infectious diarrhoea. It has antiviral and antisecretory action and decreases intestinal motility ,thus reducing frequency of stools.
• Kutaja –
It cures abdominal cramping and stools with mucus.
• Jatiphala –
It has antisecretory effect and controls diarrhoea.
• Dadimashtak churna
• Jatiphaladi churna
• Gangadhar churna
• Sanjivani vati
• Bilwadi leh
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