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Diarrhea — Messing Your Pants

icon By: Kurt - Medicine Simply Put
06/26/2011

I hate having diarrhea.  I always have trouble finding someone to remove the cork from my butt.  Diarrhea is so inconvenient.  Having to scope out where the nearest bathrooms are at is a pain.  Some people just don’t like coming home and finding me using their bathroom.  Truly, just kidding folks, just kidding.  But messing your pants is even worse.

Diarrhea is having more than 3 bowel movements a day or any bowel movement that has water in it.   Once when I was 13 I didn’t know what the term “bowel movement” meant.  I was admitted in the hospital for my hip coming out of socket and the nurse every morning would ask me if I’d had a bowel movement.  I’d say no.  Pretty soon prune juice and a medication for constipation was ordered by the doctor.  When my dad saw this he asked me why I wasn’t pooping.  I told him I was pooping 3 times a day.  He asked why I’d told the nurse I wasn’t.  I told him she’d never asked me if I was pooping.  That is when I learned what the term  “bowel movement” meant.

Now let me tell you what diarrhea is not.  If you have these symptoms it is not diarrhea but something else entirely.

  1. Incontinence – the inability to stop or hold back from pooping.
  2. Rectal urgency – The sudden urge to defecate and not make it to bathroom in time.
  3. Incomplete Evacuation – Don’t feel like you got it all out.
  4. Dumping Syndrome -  have to poop immediately after eating a meal

Now if you suddenly start being healthy and eating a lot more veggies and fiber you are going to have diarrhea because your body is not used to all your new wholesomeness.  But most healthy eaters have softer easier to pass stools than those who eat a lot of junk or fast food.  More veggies more fiber means more undigested fiber that mixes with stool and allows water to get into the poop. Like putting sand or mulch into clay soil to break it up.

The small intestine is the main digest-er of all our food.  The body doesn’t want to give up any water so the small intestines are supposed to reabsorb it and put it back into your blood vessels.

So what causes diarrhea to happen?  I already mentioned veggie eaters and to much fiber when not used to it.  But the other culprits are bacterias, viruses, parasites, medications, and laxative abuse.

Bacteria – the 2 biggies are E-coli (found in all our poop) and Staphylococcus aureus (food poisoning).  We pass these bacteria from one to another.  A person goes to the bathroom doesn’t wash their hands and then puts their thumb in your bowl of soup as they carry it out to you.  Yea you get the picture.  Sick people with Staph infections touch you in some way also.

Viruses – Most common cause of gastroenteritis (gastro=stomach; entera = intestines; itis = infection of) Hundreds of them airborne and inhaled or ingested.

Parasites – Biggest two are giardia and cryptospiridium.  First one in water and second one in food. Another parasite is tapeworms which are found in uncooked meats. Did you know people will actually buy tapeworm eggs on the internet swallow them?  Then come in to see me when they have lost the weight they wanted to lose.  Bad idea.  The scarring they create from them attaching to the inside of the intestines causes all sorts of other problems.

Medications – The two drugs most widely used that cause diarrhea are:  Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID).  These are such medications as  Motrin, Aleve, Advil, Naproxen,etc.    The other class of drugs are antibiotics.  NASID irritate intestine lining and antibiotics wipe out friendly bacteria that help absorb food.

Laxatives – I am not talking anything with psyllium seed husks in it like Metamucil.  I am talking Peri-Colace and Ducolax.  Anything with a stimulant in it to make you go poo faster.

Most diarrhea will last 1 – 3 days.  If it lasts longer than 3 weeks and you are losing weight you need to see your medical provider and be checked out.

Last tip:  if one has diarrhea I have found that Chobani yogurt with its 5 live cultures will replace any natural friendly bacteria in the gut that helps the body digest food and usually stop diarrhea.  1 oz for a baby, 2 oz for a toddler, 4 oz for a child, and 6 oz for a teenager or adult per meal until diarrhea stops.  Activia has 3 live cultures and Dannon and Yoplait have one.

Here’s to healthy happy normal bowel movements (pooping).

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