Most of us have had the experience of suffering from diarrhea particularly during the days of childhood. Lose motion with nausea or vomiting for several times in a day are the primary symptoms of diarrhea. It is usually caused due to food poisoning or through any virus or bacteria from a particular food or water. Diarrhea is usually not dangerous until it is triggered by severe dehydration. Let us take a look when and how diarrhea can be fatal and also when you should consult a doctor if you have diarrhea.
Why are deaths caused due to diarrhea?
Death caused due to diarrhea is usually seen among children between 1-2 years of age. Most of the deaths are actually due to severe loss of fluids from the body. Such deaths are common among the infants and children particularly those belonging to the developing countries. Children in such countries often suffer from malnutrition and also their organs are not fully developed to withstand the loss of fluids and electrolytes caused due to losing motion. Loss of electrolytes is also caused due to vomiting, urination, sweat and breathing. But it takes the form of dehydration when the loss of fluids and electrolytes are not replenished by intake of adequate ORS solution. Loss of potassium, bicarbonate, sodium, and chloride is the main reason for severe dehydration and lack of replacement of these electrolytes causes death. These are some viruses which cause severe diarrhea in people of all age groups- Vibrio cholerae (O139 or O1), rotavirus and Escherichia coli (ETEC).
What are the symptoms of diarrhea which you should not neglect?
Common diarrhea is identified with loose stool and stomach cramps at times. If the condition is severe, there can be nausea and vomiting accompanied by fever and fatigue. At times the patient also has dryness in mouth, extreme thirst, headache and pain in the muscles. These are all the usual symptoms of diarrhea. But if you have the following symptoms, it is time to consult a physician without delay:
- Sunken fontanel (for infants)
- Breath rate faster than normal
- Very low blood pressure
- Severe contractions in back, leg, hand and stomach muscles
- Weak or slow pulse rate
How can death cause due to diarrhea be prevented and treated?
The first and foremost treatment for diarrhea irrespective of age is the adequate supply of fluids to the patient. The chief supplement of fluids and electrolytes is a solution of ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts). The other forms of fluid intake can be like soup, tea, broth, juices, coconut water (as it is an exhaustive source of electrolytes) and anything that is easy to digest. Water mixed with salt and sugar is also a good supplement for ORS and it should be taken at regular intervals. When all these home treatments fail, the patient is given intravenous ORS for faster results.
Diarrhea is like any other ailment which can be prevented before it turns out to be fatal. A little awareness about health issues and adequate replacement of fluids and electrolytes can prevent diarrhea from becoming fatal.