Angela Payumo, MD

Dr Payumo’s medical practical has taken her around the globe, from the Philippines to Haiti, to various cities in the US. She hails from a family of physicians and has been practicing herself since 2011. Dr. Payumo appreciates the sense of family and community that she sees and feels in Hawaii, and with CloudWell Health she hopes to provide greater healthcare access to the Hawaiian people, and to anyone in immediate need.



Diarrhea is when your bowel movements become loose or watery. It occurs 3 or more times in a day. Diarrhea occurs when the lining of the intestine is unable to absorb fluid. This article will focus on the causes of diarrhea and how to treat diarrhea.

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Additionally, diarrhea occurs when the lining of the intestine secretes fluid due to infection as well. It can be of sudden onset and can last for up to four weeks. The main concern is a lack of fluid in the body or dehydration. This can even be fatal in children. Therefore, how to treat diarrhea focuses mainly on preventing dehydration. Prevent dehydration by drinking lots of water with little salt and sugar.


Infection of the gut is the most common cause. This leads to sudden onset and is acute infectious diarrhea. In addition, Gastroenteritis is another cause too. This is where infection arises due to food poisoning. It can also be from drinking contaminated water as well. Examples of infectious diarrhea include norovirus, Clostridium difficile and Escherichia coli. Campylobacter, salmonella, and cryptosporidium are also examples too. Diarrhea can also occur due to side effects of some medicines. It can also occur from persistent anxiety as well. Ulcerative colitis in the gut also causes persistent and chronic diarrhea.

It is best to consult your physician if there’s severe vomiting along with loose bowels. Acute diarrhea is accompanied by stomach cramps, abdominal pain, and fever. If the symptoms continue for more than two days, consult a doctor. Immediately consult your doctor in cases of infections caught overseas. Furthermore, consult your doctor in cases of infection in the elderly or people with chronic illnesses. Also, consult your doctor if you are pregnant as well.


The main symptom of diarrhea is loose or watery stools. Usually at least three times a day. Blood or mucus may appear in the stools as well. Cramps and pain in the abdomen are also common too.

If vomiting occurs, visit a doctor to avoid dehydration.

How to Treat Diarrhea

Symptoms often settle within a few days. This is because the immune system clears up the infection.

The main treatment is to prevent a lack of fluid in the body. How to treat diarrhea focuses on preventing dehydration. The person should drink one cup (200ml) of water after each bout of diarrhea. This extra fluid is in addition to what one would normally drink. For most adults, the best fluid is plain water. Also, avoid drinks containing sugar. Such as cola or pop for instance. Oral Rehydration Syrups are recommended for young children. Furthermore, it is also recommended for old frail people as well. Especially for those who cannot drink water at will. The ORS is in the form of a powder, where the contents are added to water. The person can balance the amounts of water, salts, and sugar lost during bowels or vomiting. In addition, anti-secretory medicines along with rehydration treatments can reduce the amount of water in the gut.

Eat normally

It is best to eat small, light meals even if one does not wish to eat. Avoid eating fatty, spicy or heavy meals as well. Plain foods such as wholemeal bread, vegetable soups, and rice are good foods.


Dehydration gives rise to many problems. These arise due to diarrhea. Additionally, salt (electrolyte) imbalance may also give rise to problems due to diarrhea as well. Similarly, reactive complications may occur in the body. Complications such as inflammation in joints, skin or eye inflammation, for example. Salmonella spp. infection gives rise to reactive complications. Infectious diarrhea may give rise to Irritable bowel syndrome or Lactose intolerance. Diarrhea can cause damage to the gut lining. This leads to a lack of a lactase, an enzyme that digests lactose sugars. Lactose intolerance leads to bloating and abdominal pain. It also leads to excessive wind and watery stools as well. This happens after consuming milk or milk products. Escherichia coli infection leads to a hemolytic uraemic syndrome. This is where anemia, a low platelet count in the blood, and kidney failure occurs. Medicines for epilepsy, diabetes, and contraception have reduced effectiveness during diarrhea.

Preventing the spread of infection

Diarrhea causing infections are easily transmitted. They can be transmitted from one person to another. Wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet. Don’t share towels and flannels. Also, regularly clean the toilets that you use as well. If your job involves food handling, you must leave the food-handling area right away. Infection with Cryptosporidium spp. is the cause of acute diarrhea. Avoid swimming in public pools. Do this for two weeks after the last episode of diarrhea.

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