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Dealing with Diarrhoea

Dealing with Diarrhoea

Advisory by Roy Khoo, Guardian Pharmacist

What is diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea is characterised by an increased number of loose stools in a day. It may be accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms - nausea, cramping, bloating, or tiredness due to dehydration.

What causes diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea is not a disease on its own and is usually caused by some underlying conditions. Some of the common causes of diarrhoea include infections, side effects of medication, digestive tract disorders, consumption of artificial sugars, and others.

How should mild diarrhoea be managed?
Diarrhoea is typically self-limiting and will usually clear up within a few days without treatment. There are several over-the-counter products that can be used to manage diarrhoea. Rehydration salts can be taken to replace any salts that are lost while having diarrhoea. Medicinal charcoal that is prescribed for diarrhoea can also help to absorb any potential toxins that can cause loose bowel movement. Additionally, medicinal charcoal can also ease symptoms of bloating.

Are there medicines to treat diarrhoea that are stronger those available over the counter?
Stronger medication such as loperamide or diphenoxylate/atropine can be purchased from the pharmacist to manage diarrhoea that cannot be stopped. Both medications treat diarrhoea by slowing down bowel movement.

When is self-treatment of diarrhoea not recommended?
If the diarrhoea is accompanied by fever, blood or mucus in the stool, or vomiting, it could be an indication of a possible bacterial infection. Do seek immediate medical treatment from a doctor under such circumstances.

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