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Persistent diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts for 2–4 weeks. Persistent diarrhea lasts longer than acute diarrhea, but less than chronic diarrhea. This type of diarrhea should not be taken lightly because there is a risk of serious complications if not treated properly
Similar to acute diarrhea and chronic diarrhea, persistent diarrhea also causes sufferers to have frequent bowel movements with looser or watery stool consistency. However, the causes and symptoms of diarrhea may vary from person to person.
Causes of Persistent Diarrhea
Most cases of diarrhea are generally caused by viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections in the digestive tract. In certain cases, persistent diarrhea can also be a sign of an illness or medical condition that affects the digestive system.
The following conditions can cause persistent diarrhea:
- Irritable bowel syndrome, which is a collection of symptoms due to irritation in the digestive tract
- Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- Pancreatic disorders, such as chronic pancrearitis and cystic fibrosis
- Malabsorption syndrome and allergies or intolerances to certain types of food, such as celiac disease and lactose intolerance.
In addition to the above conditions, persistent diarrhea can also occur after undergoing abdominal surgery or as a side effect of taking medications, such as antibiotics, antacids, or laxatives.
Treatment of Persistent Diarrhea
If you experience persistent diarrhea, it is advisable to go to the doctor. The doctor will conduct a series of examinations to determine the cause of your condition.
The examination begins with a physical examination, with or without supporting examinations in the form of blood, stool, and colonoscopy examinations.
After knowing the cause of your condition, then the doctor will suggest some steps to treat persistent diarrhea, namely:
- Antibiotic drugs, to treat persistent diarrhea due to bacterial infection
- Antidiarrheal drugs, eg loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate
- Probiotics, may be prescribed to help restore the colony of good bacteria in the gut
In addition to medication, people who have persistent diarrhea due to allergies or food intolerances should also avoid foods that can trigger diarrhea, such as foods containing gluten for people with celiac disease or milk and its derivative products for people with lactose intolerance.
Under certain conditions, persistent diarrhea experienced by toddlers and children may require hospitalization, especially if accompanied by signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, weakness, eyes look more sunken, and do not release tears when crying.
Persistent diarrhea should not be taken lightly. If you experience diarrhea that lasts more than 2 weeks, especially accompanied by abdominal cramps, vomiting, bloody stools, and fever, you should consult a doctor for appropriate treatment.