Recognizing the Difference between Acute Diarrhea and Chronic Diarrhea

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Recognizing the Difference between Acute Diarrhea and Chronic Diarrhea
Recognizing the Difference between Acute Diarrhea and Chronic Diarrhea
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Based on the duration of occurrence, diarrhea is divided into two types, namely acute diarrhea and chronic diarrhea. Both can be caused by different things. However, treatment steps need to be taken immediately to prevent possible complications due to diarrhea

Diarrhea is characterized by frequent bowel movements with watery stool texture. This condition usually lasts less than two weeks or is also called acute diarrhea. However, there is also diarrhea experienced by sufferers for more than two weeks. This type of diarrhea is also known as chronic diarrhea.

Recognize the difference between acute and chronic diarrhea - Alodokter

The Difference Between Acute Diarrhea and Chronic Diarrhea

Basically, the difference between acute diarrhea and chronic diarrhea lies in how long the illness lasts. However, the duration of the disease is also influenced by the causes and symptoms experienced. Here is the explanation:

Acute Diarrhea

Acute diarrhea is the most common type of diarrhea and can be caused by any of the following:

  • Gastrointestinal infections due to viruses, bacteria, or parasites in contaminated water and food or contact with other people who have these infections
  • Drug side effects
  • Consuming too many alcoholic or caffeinated drinks
  • Food poisoning

In addition to defecating in liquid form, acute diarrhea is sometimes accompanied by vomiting, blood or mucus in the stool, fever, headache, and abdominal pain.

Of all these symptoms, dehydration is something to watch out for from diarrhea. The body feels weak, muscle cramps, headaches, reduced frequency of urination, and dry mouth are some of the symptoms of dehydration.

In general, acute diarrhea will heal within a few days after drinking lots of water, taking medicines, and getting enough rest. However, immediately consult a doctor if the diarrhea you experience is accompanied by:

  • Blood when vomiting or defecating
  • Vomiting profusely or very frequently
  • Unbearable stomach ache
  • High fever that doesn't go away

Steps for handling also need to be taken if you are an elderly person, are pregnant, are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, or suffer from certain diseases, such as epilepsy, diabetes, colitis, and kidney disease.

Chronic Diarrhea

If acute diarrhea is common, chronic diarrhea lasting more than two or even four weeks is much less common. This kind of condition is considered a serious illness, especially for people with weakened immune systems.

The cause can be infection by parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Meanwhile, chronic diarrhea that is not caused by infection can be caused by the following:

  • Drugs, such as laxatives or antibiotics
  • Intestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease
  • The body's intolerance to some foods and drinks, such as cow's milk, fructose, or soy protein
  • Disorders in the pancreas
  • Thyroid disorders, such as hyperthyroidism
  • Surgery or radiation therapy that has been done
  • Reduced blood flow to the intestines
  • Tumor
  • Immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS
  • Inherited diseases, for example those that cause deficiency of certain enzymes

In contrast to acute diarrhea, the diagnosis of chronic diarrhea usually requires additional examinations in addition to a physical examination to determine the cause, such as blood tests, stool examinations, and endoscopy.

Meanwhile, complications that can be caused by chronic diarrhea vary according to the patient's age and he alth condition. For example, chronic diarrhea that affects someone who has a weakened immune system can lead to malnutrition.

Chronic diarrhea, regardless of the cause, is a condition that requires immediate medical attention because of the high risk of dehydration and electrolyte disturbances.

Diarrhea Handling Steps

Chronic diarrhea caused by bacterial infection can generally be treated by taking antibiotics.If not caused by an infection, diarrhea requires medical treatment according to the cause and the provision of nutritional supplements in the long term. In some cases, this condition may even require surgery.

When you have diarrhea, consuming rehydration fluids as a substitute for wasted body fluids is the best way to avoid dehydration. Even so, avoid drinks that contain a lot of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, because they risk worsening diarrhea.

In addition, avoid eating spicy, fatty, and heavy foods, for a while. Rice and bread without any additives are recommended foods for you to consume.

Over-the-counter antidiarrheal drugs can also be taken, although they are not always necessary. However, it would be better if you consult a doctor first to ensure its safety. Also avoid giving this medicine to children under 12 years old.

In addition, make it a habit to wash your hands regularly, especially after urinating, gardening, playing with pets, and before processing food. This is an important key in preventing diarrhea.

In addition, consume drinking water that you believe is clean and sterile. If you are traveling to an area where the cleanliness of the water is in doubt, bring a supply of bottled water with the seal still intact.

If the diarrhea does not improve in more than 2 days, you are advised to immediately see a doctor for further treatment.

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