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Diarrhea--Symptoms, Types, and Treatments

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Is there a person alive who has not experienced this uncomfortable and, at times, exhausting state of illness, cramping every four seconds, running to the bathroom, holding on to our lower abdomens as if to keep ourselves from, literally, falling apart inside? Diarrhea can be disconcerting and leave you feeling completely washed out at best; at its worst, it can cause terrible dehydration and, in situations when rehydration is not possible, can be fatal.
In most cases, diarrhea, otherwise known as bowel movements that are watery and flow right through you, often accompanied by abdominal cramping and rectal discomfort, is nothing too medically serious. It can be caused by something you ate or drank, including coffee, tea, alcohol or heavily dairy - laden drinks such as milkshakes or ice cream shakes. It usually clears up on its own.

There are three categories for diarrhea, which are:

a) osmotic - the water from the body is being diverted to the bowel, usually as a result of some substance, like a sugar substitute

b)secretory - water is being released from the body into the bowel as a result of an infection

c) exudative - diarrhea is accompanied by blood or pus and may be the result of a more serious medical condition, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's Disease or any number of infections.


Food poisoning and stomach flu are the most common causes of diarrhea. In these cases it is crucial to rehydrate and take in enough fluids to maintain an electrolyte balance. In children, diarrhea can be very dangerous, so it's important to rehydrate them with drinks such as pedialyte.

Over the counter remedies such as Pepto Bismol can relieve cramps and slow down or stop diarrhea. For more on over the counter and home remedies for diarrhea, click on the following link: http://health.howstuffworks.com/home-remedies-for-diarrhea.htm

Aimee Boyle teaches, writes and enjoys her family on the shoreline of CT. For more, see http://straightandnarrow.yolasite.com

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.