Diarrhea is loose, watery stools (bowel movements). You have diarrhea if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. It’s common and usually not serious.
Many people get diarrhea a few times a year. It normally lasts 2 to 3 days. Some people get it more often. It could be because they have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other conditions.
There are actually several different ways to classify diarrhea. These types of diarrhea include:
- Acute diarrhea: The most common, acute diarrhea is loose watery diarrhea that lasts one to two days. This type doesn’t need treatment and it usually goes away after a few days.
- Persistent diarrhea: This type of diarrhea generally persists for several weeks – two to four weeks
- Chronic diarrhea: Diarrhea that lasts for more than four weeks or comes and goes regularly over a long period of time is called chronic diarrhea.
Can diarrhea be prevented?
Hand washing is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria that can cause diarrhea. You should always wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet, and before meals.
The following rules when preparing food can also help prevent diarrhea:
- Always put foods that could spoil in the fridge
- Ensure that meat is cooked thoroughly
- Avoid eating raw meats, fish, and shellfish unless you are sure that they have been freshly prepared and are from a reliable source
- Never place cooked meat on surfaces or plates that have held raw meat
- Disinfect benchtops, stovetops, and chopping boards with a diluted bleach solution
- Vaccination is our strongest protection against vaccine-preventable causes of diarrhea
Two types of common diarrhea are vaccine-preventable: rotavirus and cholera. Rotavirus vaccines are especially crucial in preventing a large proportion of diarrhea deaths and hospitalizations around the world. Cholera vaccination is critical in preventing outbreaks in high-risk settings.
* All content published is for general information purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.