Causes and management of diarrhea

Victor Dumaguing

FOR YOUNG people, teenagers and those with adventurous spirits, the most common cause of their loose bowel movement is the so-called dietary indiscretion which may take the form of eating several types of foods simultaneously or in sequence, one of which may not be digestive-compatible with the other items eaten.

A classic example is eating green mangoes with fish sauce to boot, and then segue into ice cream delight. Or let's not forget that 33 percent of Asians, Filipinos included have lactose intolerance, meaning the enzyme lactase is missing or deficient in our gastrointestinal tract, therefore, anything dairy- based or milk- based food eaten or drunk- halo halo, yogurt, cheese, would bring the person in a hurry to the restroom.

The more serious causes of diarrhea are the infectious microbes. We have mentioned earlier the Vibrio cholera bacteria which give a open-faucet-like kind of water loss, typhoid patients also have diarrhea and so do folks who have the bacterium Shigella shigae in their intestines. Don’t forget that one of the symptoms of hepatitis A aside from the jaundice and abdominal pain is loose bowel movement. Among the first signs of polio is loose bowel movement, because the transmission of its virus is thru feco-oral route. Among children and infants, there are Nora and Rota viruses. In Baguio and neighboring La Trinidad, we are wary of how our vegetable salads are prepared because the Entamoeba histolytica may be lurking among the leaves and flowers. And of course, the very popular, or shall we say, notorious E. coli which is the most common contaminant in water supplies , also cause of pesky Traveller's diarrhea.

Common sense dictates that management and treatment of diarrhea is based on the cause. Thus it is imperative, that if the loose bowel movement has become uncontrollable and problematic, consultation must be done, a stool exam is made to pinpoint the offending microbe, if there is.

Otherwise, the so-called old-wives traditional remedy for diarrhea may be used as an emergency solution while waiting for a more definitive diagnosis. Homemade “dextrose" is composed of boiling one liter of water, add one tablespoon of salt when it starts to simmer, then add one tablespoon of sugar after. Cool then let the patient drink the amount, frequency and interval depends of how dehydrated the patient is. Or if someone is cooking rice, the Am could also help alleviate the dehydration. Bananas - cantong in Ilocano, not the lakatan - is a good source of the lost potassium. The rind of apple contains kaolin and pectin which theoretically coat or cover the inside lumen of the intestines thus preventing toxins from over stimulating them to contract vigorously. And by the way, mistakes made by most mothers, mine included, weak tea provides also some pectin and kaolin as demulcent agent, remember, not the usual the darker the tea, the better. Because the theine content has a diuretic effect, thus aggravating the dehydration
So folks, lets enjoy our food but don’t let diarrhea spoil the fun.