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Diarrhoea caused by germs and food poisoning can be prevented. Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food is one of the best ways to prevent diarrhoea. Eat hot foods (steaming hot foods) should be preferred and avoid foods which have been stored or served at room temperature, especially when eating out.
Diarrhoea causes frequent watery stool which may be accompanied by cramping, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Some people may have an urgent need to use the toilet, or may have loss of bowel control (more common in children). Some people with diarrhoea may have fever and chills or bloody stools.
Diarrhoea is characterised by passage of loose or watery stools three or more times in a day. Acute diarrhoea is most often caused by an infection with virus or bacteria. Chronic diarrhoea may be caused by infection or it may be a symptom of some other disorder. If there is blood in the stool during diarrhoea – with or without mucus – it is called dysentery.
Diarrhoea in most cases is a self limiting illness which improves in a few days. However repeated diarrhoea can cause dehydration. Consult a doctor for diarrhoea if the person passes more than 6 stools in a day, has blood in stool, high fever, recurrent vomiting, or shows signs of dehydration.
Diarrhoea is diagnosed clinically and the doctor usually does not recommend any tests. In acute diarrhoea stool tests may be conducted in cases with severe diarrhoea or if there is blood or mucus in stool. Tests are conducted to monitor the condition of diarrhoea mostly in people who have chronic or persistent diarrhoea.
Acute diarrhoea in most cases is a self limiting illness which improves in a few days. Symptoms of diarrhoea usually subside in five to seven days in children, and rarely last for more than four days in adults. If the diarrhoea lasts 14 days or more, it is known as chronic or persistent diarrhoea. Duration of chronic diarrhoea depends on the underlying cause.