Most of you have experienced the frantic rush for a bathroom, legs crossed and teeth gritted, that means you’ve been struck with diarrhea. Usually, it’s associated with a gastrointestinal illness, or possibly some kind of food you’ve eaten. The word diarrhea comes from the Greek language and means ‘flowing through,’ a perfectly accurate summary of these loose, watery and frequent stools.
Diarrhea can be of short duration, called acute (meaning of short duration) or of long duration, called chronic. Acute diarrhea is often from infections, such as viral rotavirus in children and norovirus in adults, or from bacterial-related infections like campylobacter, E.coli, salmonella, or shigella. It also can be caused by using antibiotics.
Chronic diarrhea can be caused by:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease
- Lactose intolerance
- Malabsorption (pancreatic problems or bowel problems like celiac disease cause this problem)
- Chronic alcoholism
- Parasitic infections like Giardiasis, amoebiasis
Probiotics have been used by physicians and consumers for diarrhea for several years. There’s ample anecdotal evidence (backed by research in some instances) of probiotics helping people with diarrhea of various causes.
In 2006, a national panel of experts recommended that probiotics be used for anyone with antibiotic-related diarrhea and acute diarrhea. That panel also said probiotics hold promise for irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease, as we’ll discuss later on.
Next time you visit the doctor’s office, ask your physician about the benefits of probiotics and if they would be beneficial to your diet.
To your health,
Dr. Shekhar Challa
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