Frequently passing loose or watery stools? You may be suffering from diarrhoea, a common condition which is usually nothing to worry about but can be unpleasant until it passes in a few days to a week. Diarrhoea can be caused by a multitude of causes, from a stomach bug to allergies of a certain food.
Stomach bugs are infectious, so if you believe you may be suffering with an infection then you should stay off work until the symptoms have stopped for 2 days. This is because you are most infectious from when the symptoms start until 2 days after they have passed.
As infection is the major cause of diarrhoea, you can reduce your risk of catching it by following high standards of hygiene including:
- Regularly washing your hands with soap and water, particularly before eating or preparing food and before and after using the toilet
- Cleaning the toilet fully after each bout of diarrhoea
- Avoiding the sharing of towels with others
Although infection is the most common cause, it is not the only one and the following may also be reasons why you are suffering:
- Allergies to food (e.g. gluten sensitivity)
- Laxative abuse
- Eating foods which upset the digestive system
- Some medications
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Typically, diarrhoea will clear up without treatment after a few days but be careful of dehydration. This can be avoided by:
- Hydration – Drink plenty of fluids
- Oral Rehydration Solutions – Replace lost fluids and the important electrolytes that are lost in diarrhoea
- Loperamide – This should only be used if it is necessary for you to leave the house. In order to get the infection out of your body quicker, you are better to allow it to run its course rather than use constipating medicines.
- Eat – Eating solid food as quickly as possible will improve recovery. If you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby and they are suffering from diarrhoea you should try to continue to feed them as normal.
When to seek medical help?
- If you still feel dehydrated after using oral rehydration sachets
- If your stools are bloody or you are bleeding from your bottom
- If you have green or yellow vomit
- If you have had diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting from than 2 days