Prognosis of Diarrhoea

By  , Expert Content
Apr 05, 2012

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Diarrhoea is a major public health problem in many parts of the world. It is a leading cause of illness and death in children worldwide, especially in places where children are living in insanitary conditions. The disease diarrhoea is characterised by loose and more frequent bowel movements in a person than normal. Some people may vomit as well.

Prognosis of diarrhoea

  • Self-limiting disease: Most people with diarrhoea have acute diarrhoea, i.e. not severe. 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 usually last for  two to four days in adults, and rarely last any longer.
  • Dehydration in diarrhoea: In acute diarrhoea repeated defecation and vomiting can cause dehydration (loss of electrolytes and water from the body). Severe cases of dehydration can result from this condition. Dehydration is more common in infants, the elderly, or other people with significant medical illnesses. If dehydration is not treated, it may cause - hypotension with syncope (fainting upon standing due to a reduced volume of blood, which causes a drop in blood pressure upon standing), decreases urine output, severe weakness, shock, kidney failure, confusion, acidosis (too much acid in the blood), and coma. People with severe dehydration may have to be hospitalised for fluid replacement. Drinking plenty of water and oral rehydration solution can help to prevent dehydration.
  • Malnutrition in diarrhoea: If the diarrhoea lasts for 14 days or more, it is known as chronic or persistent diarrhoea. Replenishing lost nourishment can become a challenge in children with chronic diarrhoea. Regardless of the cause of chronic diarrhoea, the child may need nutritional support.

Death in diarrhoea:
Diarrhoea is a leading cause of death in children living in insanitary conditions. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 3.5 million deaths occur each year because of diarrhoea. Most of these deaths (about 80%) occur in children under the age of 5 years. Death and complications due to diarrhoea are common in children as a smaller amount of fluid loss leads to dehydration, compared to adults.



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