Diarrhoea is an increase in loose and watery stools or bowel movements. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Usually diarrhoea is caused by a viral or bacterial infection and lasts 5-10 days. This is referred to as ‘Acute Diarrhoea’. Diarrhoea that lasts longer than 2 weeks is described as persistent or chronic and must be referred to the doctor.
Eating food that has not been cooked or cleaned properly and drinking contaminated water can also cause diarrhoea and this is often picked up during travel. This is therefore known as ‘travellers’diarrhoea’. If you have recently been abroad or have diarrhoea accompanied with a. fever and other symptoms, seek medical advice from a pharmacist or a doctor.
Fluid and electrolyte replacement is the most important factor in treating diarrhoea as a lot of nutrients and fluid will be lost. Rehydration products are available as powders for reconstitution in water, e.g. Dioralyte.
If you are unable to stay at home and need to stop diarrhoea more quickly, antidiarrhoeals are available to buy OTC. E.g. Loperamide, otherwise known as ‘Imodium’. If your symptoms continue for 24 hours after taking antidiarrhoeal medicines, you should consult your doctor.
Products such as ‘Pepto-Bismol’ contain an ingredient called ‘Bismuth Subsalicylate’ which can be useful for bacterial diarrhoea, however it is only licensed for adults and children aged 16 years and over.