Warning: Diarrhea can Cause Serious Medical Problems



Oh no, not again!

Have you had days when your stomach rebels against you? It keeps on rumbling and makes you rush to the toilet more times than you want to?

Well, you are not alone. We all experience it once in while and the feeling is horrible. It puts you on the edge the entire day.

Part of aging, they say. Or is it?

Science says that people age, their stomach linings’ capacity to resist damage and elasticity decrease making it susceptible to gastrointestinal disorders like diarrhea.


What is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is an abnormal watery bowel movement that comes frequently – more than three times a day


Among seniors, it is commonly caused by gastrointestinal disease, certain medications, food contamination, intolerance to lactose and gluten, artificial sweeteners and immune deficiencies.

If diarrhea comes with nausea, fever, and vomiting, it may be due to an infection which could last a few days. And it should not be taken lightly as it can be dangerous, even life-threatening, if not attended to.

Diarrhea, if untreated, can result to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and, in worst cases, weakness and death, says Anil Minocha, M.D., gastroenterologist and author of the book, “The Encyclopedia of the Digestive System and Digestive Disorders.”


How to ride out diarrhea:

Occasional diarrhea is no cause for worry, unless it becomes chronic (lasting more than a week). It creates inconvenience and can sap your strength. But by doing these simple “home” things you will, again, be fit as a fiddle after a day or two.


1.  Stay home:
Nothing is more horrifying than to feel the need for a toilet and the nearest one is a block away.

So stay home and rest. Diarrhea can sap your energy to the bone.


2.  Keep hydrated:
Dehydration is a dangerous dehydration risk among seniors. It can cause confusion, dizziness, low blood pressure and rapid heart rate.

Drink lots of liquids, particularly electrolytes (minerals that affect body functions like amount of water, and pH value of the blood) like Gatorade.


3.   Go on a diet:
Go on a diet when you have diarrhea.

Don’t eat fatty foods, milk, butter, ice cream, cheese, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, artificial sweeteners, and foods that produce excess stomach gas like cabbage, beans broccoli and cauliflower.

Eat lots of bananas. Its high potassium content will minimize loss of energy. For meals, stick to white rice congee or white bread with hard boiled eggs.

It’s tough. So is rushing to the toilet every hour.


4.  Take anti-diarrhea medications:
Most doctors would recommend bananas and electrolytic drinks to ride out a bout of diarrhea.

This approach is agonizingly slow. So if you want a fast relief, take some medications. Diatabs (Loperamide) and Lomotil (Diphenoxylate hydrochloride) are both effective. When we were kids, my Grandma’s favorite was Kaopectate (Bismuth subsalicylate).

Do not take more than necessary. They all result to constipation.


5.  Rest:
Diarrhea can be emotionally and physically draining. So don’t aggravate the situation by keeping to your daily routine. Give yourself a break. It might just be what you need to give you a better perspective in life; give you some lessons in self-care and food preferences.

About a hear ago, I had a serious bout of diarrhea. For almost twelve hours, I had to go to the toilet every hour on the hour. Though I was not dehydrated but I was beginning to tire.

In desperation, I had to call my daughter (who is a doctor). She promptly administered IV fluids to compensate for my fluid and nutritional loss. That did the trick.

Please share with other seniors so they can avoid the serious implications of diarrhea.

Image: www.livestrong.com