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Time for Food to Exit the Bowels
The time it takes for food to travel from the mouth, be digested and passed out as a waste (feces) is known as the bowel transit time. This can vary from person to person but it is within 12 to 48 hours. It can be, however, take as long as 72 hours. Some people experience a bowel movement just after eating but this is not the same food that has been consumed.
The process of defecation is controlled by certain nerve reflexes which are triggered by surrounding parts of the bowel. When the lower parts of the colon is stretched with a large quantity of feces, it triggers nerve reflexes that lead to the defecation process. A person feels the urge to pass stool and if the setting is appropriate, a bowel movement will occur.
Definition of Acute Diarrhea
Diarrhea means having more than three loose bowel movements a day.
Acute (Lat. acutus = sharp, pointed) diarrhea, by definition, lasts less than 3 weeks (1).
Causes of Acute Diarrhea
A) Acute INFECTIOUS Diarrhea
- Bacterial diarrhea usually occurs in food poisoning due to infection with bacteria, like E. coli or Salmonella.
- Parasitic diarrhea may be due to intestinal worms, or one-cell parasites like Entamoeba hystolytica, or Giardia.
- Viral diarrhea mainly affects small children in kinder-gartens due to stool-to-mouth infection from other children, or (in poor countries) due to infection by water, contaminated by rotavirus.
Diarrhea may be contagious or not, depending on the cause.
Infectious diarrhea due to bacterial or parasitic food poisoning or due to rotavirus infection can be transmitted by stool-to-mouth (fecal-oral) route (with hands, water, food, toys and other objects contaminated with the stool). Additionally, viral diarrhea can be contracted by droplet infection, that is by inhaling droplets of nasal secretions or saliva of an infected and sneezing or coughing patient (usually small child).
Diarrhea is not likely to be transmitted by inhaling the odor of diarrheal stool. Diarrhea due to bacterium Clostridium dificcile or yeast Candida albicans overgrowth is not likely contracted by a healthy person, but it can be contracted by someone with lowered immunity (a person with AIDS, or a patient after antibiotic treatment, during or after chemotherapy, and so on).
Diarrhea in most of other disorders (IBS, food allergies, liver, gallbladder, pancreas disease, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, Crohn’s disease) is not likely contagious, unless the affected person develops a subsequent infection.
It is often not known why a certain person has a diarrhea, so it should be assumed that diarrhea is always contagious, even if it is not.
Prevention of Diarrhea
- Washing hands after every contact with the stool (toilet, soil, animals)
- Cleaning surfaces, contaminated with stool, soil, chemicals
- Keeping small children out from daily care centers, if they have diarrhea, or if many other children have it
continue reading Is Diarrhea Contagious? How Can Be Diarrhea Prevented?
Find the Cause of Diarrhea from Symptoms
In this article, typical symptoms are paralleled with common causes of diarrhea. The cause of diarrhea can be also found by tests for diarrhea.
Causes of Diarrhea in Newborns
A newborn normally poops 8-10 times a day.
- Fever, vomiting, diarrhea: rotavirus, rarely other microbes;
- Mild diarrhea: overfeeding, neonatal drug withdrawal;
- Skin rash, strain to vomiting (gagging), irritability, diarrhea: allergy to cow’s milk or soy formula;
- Diarrhea in first 3 days of life: congenital diseases of the liver, pancreas, biliary tract, small or large intestine.
What Is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea (Greek dia = through, rhein = flowing) means having more than three bowel movements or passing more than 300g of watery stool daily (1).
NOTE: American English spelling is diarrhea, UK English spelling is diarrhoea. Common misspellings for diarrhea: diarea, diahrea, diareah, diarreah.
What Is Not Diarrhea?
Ten diapers a day are usual in a 14 days old infant. Three soft bowel movements a day may be considered normal for adult on a fiber-rich diet. Stool soiling in children who are already toilet trained may be due to defective anus. Stool incontinence or mucus seeping in adults may be due to rectal inflammation, rectal prolapse, hemorrhoids, uncoordinated pelvic floor muscles, or anal muscle or nerve damage (2). In all mentioned cases, bowel movements tend to be of normal volume and consistency.
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