Diarrhea: see types, care and home remedy

Basic sanitation is one of the rights that we have as citizens, but unfortunately several regions of the country do not have this service. Dirty water, garbage and open sewage are responsible for the proliferation of bacteria and other microorganisms.

People living in these locations are more susceptible to suffering from infections and contamination, which among other symptoms can cause diarrhea.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 88% of infant deaths from diarrhea are caused by inadequate sanitation.

In addition to being the second leading cause of death in children under 5, 84% of the victims are children.

But it is worth remembering that infectious microorganisms can be present in various foods and, therefore, poor hygiene in the preparation of meals or consumption of spoiled products can also affect the intestine.

Understand better about the causes and consequences of diarrhea, and learn how to prevent it!


What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is quite common and its main characteristic is the evacuation of liquid stools (loss of consistency) frequently and without control, rarely mixed with blood.

The condition can present in both acute and chronic forms depending on the duration of symptoms.

Many cases of diarrhea last for a few days, but when it occurs for weeks, the disease usually causes severe dehydration in people, drastically reducing the amount of sodium and potassium in the body.

Some of the signs of dehydration are dry mouth, chapped lips, lethargy (deep sleep), mental confusion and decreased urination.

In general, diarrhea can be cured by replacing fluids and medicines that treat the functioning of the intestinal flora.

Right at the first symptom it is recommended to consult a doctor to assess whether the case is being caused by conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, infections, among others, to then indicate the best treatment.

Diarrhea can be classified, in the ICD-10, by the codes:

  • A07.9 – Intestinal disease not specified by protozoa;
  • A09 – Diarrhea and gastroenteritis of presumed infectious origin;
  • K52.9 – Unspecified gastroenteritis and colitis, unspecified.

What are the types of diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be classified into two types: acute diarrhea, when the duration is less than 14 days, and chronic diarrhea, when the duration is greater than 14 days. Know more:

Acute diarrhea (common)

This type is characterized by causing 3 or more bowel movements, loose and watery stools, in a 24-hour period, but it is a self-limited condition – that is, it does not persist for long.

The condition is common in children mainly due to the habit of putting their hands to their mouths without the correct hygiene.

In adults, it can be associated with stress , medication and food, such as excess caffeine and fat and even anxiety in the face of some important moment.

Chronic diarrhea (constant)

Constant or chronic diarrhea is also characterized by an increase in the number of bowel movements (more than 3 bowel movements) during the day and a change in stool consistency. However, unlike the acute type, chronic diarrhea is prolonged and can last for weeks or months, depending on the cause.

Fever , loss of energy and appetite can be some symptoms related to chronic diarrhea.

The condition can be caused, among other things, by infections, diseases that affect the gastrointestinal system, such as irritable bowel syndrome and Celiac disease, and tumors.

What causes diarrhea?

There are different causes for diarrhea to occur, such as food intolerances, bacteria and even medication. Among the most common causes are:

Acute diarrhea

One of the most recurrent causes of acute diarrhea is infectious agents, which can come into contact with the body through spoiled or poorly sanitized foods, or through contact with contaminated surfaces or saliva from sick people.

Norovirus and rotavirus viruses (which cause   gastroenteritis ), are among the most common causes of diarrhea in children and adults.

Among the bacteria, the main causes are Campylobacter (which causes colitis ), Salmonella (which causes Salmonellosis), Shigella (which causes Shigellosis) and Escherichia coli (which causes intestinal infection).

Protozoa are also responsible for causing diarrhea, developing cases of amoebiasis and giardiasis , which can cause symptoms such as stomach pain, flatulence, fever, constipation , physical weakness and watery stools with blood stains.

Chronic diarrhea

Among the most common causes of chronic diarrhea are:

Food sensitivities

The body may have difficulty digesting some nutrient or food component, causing symptoms every time the product is ingested.

Generally, people who have lactose intolerance develop diarrhea after eating dairy products, as their bodies cannot digest properly, causing bowel movements.

As well as lactose intolerance, fructose (fruit sugar) and some artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol, found in chewing gums and sugar-free products, can also cause diarrhea in some people with sensitivity.


Some medications can cause diarrhea, such as antibiotics .

Responsible for destroying bad bacteria (which cause disease), these drugs can also affect good bacteria naturally present in our bodies (for example, lactobacilli, which make the intestine work).

With the use of medications, bowel function can be affected and cause diarrhea.

In addition to antibiotics, the prolonged use of some drugs, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (used for emotional disorders), statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) and laxatives, can also affect intestinal flow.

Surgical post

When undergoing surgeries in the abdominal region, involving regions of the appendix, gallbladder, intestines, liver, spleen and stomach, diarrhea may occur.

The causes vary according to the type of surgery. For example, the removal of the gallbladder affects the digestion of fats and can trigger diarrhea until the body adapts.

Bowel surgery, like colectomy, can cause frequent bowel movements due to the removal of part of the organ.

Cancer treatments

Cancer treatments , such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy, can use different types of drugs capable of generating different side effects. Among them, diarrhea.

It is important to inform the doctor who performs the treatment to monitor and say whether the case requires greater care or not.

Celiac disease

This condition makes the patient’s body unable to absorb a protein present in wheat, rye and barley: gluten . Among the most common symptoms is persistent diarrhea.

Crohn’s disease

The Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation in the small intestine, which affects the digestive tract. Its most common symptom is chronic diarrhea, lasting for weeks and with the presence of blood.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome does not have exactly one cause, but it is known that people who suffer from this condition have a more sensitive intestine than normal, and can be aggravated by stress and some foods. Among the symptoms, diarrhea and colic are the most common.

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel condition) is responsible for causing inflammation in the intestine. As the lining of the organ becomes more sensitive, it loses its ability to absorb water from waste that passes through the colon, which ends up causing diarrhea in large quantities.

Stress and emotional factors

Our intestines are related to the brain, so when we are stressed, anxious or worried, the intestinal flow is affected, which can cause reactions such as constipation, diarrhea or colic.

Diarrhea in pregnancy

Having diarrhea in pregnancy can be a very common condition. Pregnancy can cause changes in intestinal transit, however, it is usually constipation that occurs. Diarrhea, in most cases, is caused by secondary conditions, such as food infection or viral infection.

If the patient is diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for example, pregnancy can increase the body’s sensitivity, as the manifestation of the disease can be stimulated by emotional factors, such as pregnancy anxiety.

To avoid the risks, the ideal during the period of pregnancy is to choose light foods, fruits and vegetables, which facilitate digestion and improve immunity, reducing risks of viral infections.

What can cause diarrhea in babies?

The most common causes of diarrhea in babies are viral or bacterial infections that are facilitated by the children’s habit of putting their hands on their mouths and, in some cases, by low immunity.

In childhood, the treatment of diarrhea consists of fluid replacement, such as serum, and a light diet, recommended by the pediatrician.

Young children, under 2 years old, should generally not use medications, unless expressly directed by the professional.

When properly monitored and treated, the condition tends to be resolved without complications.

However, when the symptom is persistent, attention must be paid to the possibility of intestinal diseases, such as Celiac, or food intolerances.

Is diarrhea contagious?

Sometimes yes! Diarrhea is contagious when its origin is infectious , that is, caused by viruses or bacteria. In other cases, such as when it is caused by an irritated intestine or reaction to a medication, it is not transmissible.

Risk factors

Some points can influence the occurrence of diarrhea, they are:

  • Excessive consumption of caffeine;
  • Contact with contaminated water or food;
  • Smoking;
  • Travel to places that do not have good water sanitation;
  • Exaggeration when consuming alcoholic beverages;
  • Low immunity;
  • Food rich in fats, sugars and processed foods.


The main feature of this condition is loose, watery stools, but the following symptoms are also common:

  • Abdominal cramps;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Fever;
  • Swelling;
  • Nausea;
  • Urgent need to evacuate;
  • Blood in the stool.

Yellow diarrhea

When yellow diarrhea occurs it is a sign that there is fat in the stool, usually indicating food poisoning or malabsorption of nutrients.

The yellow color may be due to diseases that prevent the correct absorption of fats by the intestine, causing them to be eliminated in the feces. It may also be due to the low concentration of bile (digestive juice) in the stool, due to changes in the liver.

In this case, it is necessary to double the attention and consumption of water, for hydration, in addition to avoid eating very fatty foods, as recommended by the doctor.

Diarrhea and stomach pain

When diarrhea accompanied by stomach pain occurs, there is evidence of food poisoning or gastrointestinal infection.

Attention to hyration needs to be doubled to replace lost fluids, in addition to avoiding spicy and fatty foods that make the body worse.

If the symptoms persist and there is also a fever, it is advisable to see a doctor to assess the condition.

Diarrhea with blood

Finding the presence of blood in the stool is frightening and can be a warning sign. Among the most common causes are:

  • Hemorrhoids;
  • Contamination by bacteria, viruses or fungi;
  • Anal fissure;
  • Examination, such as colonoscopy;
  • Intestinal worms;
  • Diverticulitis;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • Bowel cancer;
  • Ulcerative colitis.

Each condition needs specific treatments, which may involve the use of antibiotics, medications to recover the intestinal flora or just dietary changes.

Vomiting and diarrhea

When diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, it is usually a case of food poisoning.

It can be caused by the consumption of spoiled or contaminated food that has been exposed to bacteria, has passed its expiration date, or has been stored in the wrong condition.

Symptoms other than vomiting and diarrhea include:

  • Blood in the stool;
  • Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramps;
  • Fever above 38 ° C;
  • Excessive thirst;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Weakness and dizziness.

It is advisable to see a doctor, to assess the condition and recommend the right medications for treatment.


A general practitioner is able to identify the condition and indicate which treatment is best for the case, the patient himself is also able to identify the condition from the observation of feces. Some tests may be ordered to identify the causes of the problem, such as:


The blood test can go deep to look for metabolic problems, which may be causing diarrhea.

Performed with a simple blood collection, tests are requested for specific diagnoses such as anemia , levels of vitamins , urea and creatinine .

They can also identify some types of food allergies .

Stool study

Through a stool sample, the laboratory is able to check if there are any different bacteria in the body, in addition to being able to search for the presence of rotavirus, adenovirus and norovirus in the stool.

This test may also be ordered to look for the presence of fat or blood in the stool, which may indicate food intolerances or chronic intestinal diseases.

Imaging exams

Although uncommon, imaging tests can be indicated to make up the diagnosis.

In general, they serve to analyze the health of the organs, being able to identify a possible anatomical abnormality in the abdominal region.

Among them, ultrasound or abdominal tomography, which are non-invasive exams.


This type of test is used to analyze the length of the large intestine, helping to check for abnormal growth in the organ, swollen or red tissue, bleeding and wounds.

It is performed by means of a microcamera that is introduced into the anus, reaching the small intestine.

During the examination, a biopsy can be performed, which consists of removing a small sample of intestinal tissue to be sent for analysis.


Sigmoidoscopy is used to check the interior of part of the large intestine. In it, a tube blows air into the intestine, to facilitate the doctor’s vision and internal evaluation.

It is recommended in cases of chronic diarrhea, with suspected polyp or cancer, for example.

Is there a cure?

Yes , in some cases, it is enough to maintain hydration and take care of the food for the diarrhea to stop and the body to resume its normal rhythm. However, when the causes include parasitic infections or chronic, intestinal and autoimmune diseases, it is necessary to treat the source of the problem to eliminate the symptom.

What is the treatment of diarrhea

As diarrhea causes a lot of fluid to be lost from the body, the main treatment is to avoid dehydration and adopt a light diet. In addition, it is essential to recognize the cause of the problem and the need for auxiliary treatments, such as medication or dietary changes.

Along with food, it is essential to maintain a good intake of fluids. Since diarrhea causes many bowel movements throughout the day, the chance of developing dehydration is greater.

The Unified Health System (SUS) makes the rehydration serum available free of charge in the units, to help in the treatment, it is also sold in pharmacies.

In extreme cases of dehydration, the doctor may recommend the consumption of fluids intravenously (serum ingested through the vein).


The serum is indicated generally replace fluids and to avoid dehydration, but other drugs may aid in fluid management and restoration of the intestinal flora or reducing the evacuation rate.

Between them:

  • Diasec ;
  • Intestin ;
  • Imosec ;
  • Floratil Capsule ;
  • Repoflor ;
  • Sindrat ;
  • Reidramax .

When caused by infectious agents, diarrhea can be treated with the use of medications such as azithromycin or doxycycline .


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Is there a medication for chronic diarrhea?

It may be that the patient receives medical advice to treat chronic diarrhea with medication. Not all conditions or illnesses that cause chronic diarrhea need drug treatment. For example, some conditions, such as celiac disease, may only require diet.

Therefore, the use of medicines will depend on the causes of diarrhea.

Living together

Some tips are important to live with the condition until there is an improvement in the individual’s condition, they are:

  • Avoid using laxatives;
  • Wash your hands before starting any meal;
  • Avoid consumption of dairy foods;
  • Drink fluids;
  • Avoid fatty foods.

Food changes

Some foods help to balance the intestinal flora and make the body function normally. Eating easily digestible and light foods helps a lot, such as:

  • Whole grains, such as rice;
  • Fruits and vegetables;
  • Soups.

There are some drinks and foods that need to be avoided, as they can aggravate diarrhea, avoid:

  • Coffee;
  • Black tea;
  • Alcoholic beverages in general;
  • Milk;
  • Industrialized sauces;
  • Chocolate;
  • Cheeses;
  • Fried food.

Home remedy: what is good for diarrhea?

Some natural measures and home remedies for diarrhea can help the body to recover more quickly.

Homemade syrup

Using apples, carrots and honey it is possible to prepare a syrup that strengthens the body and reduces the effects of diarrhea:

  • 1/2 grated carrot;
  • 1/2 grated apple;
  • 1/4 cup of honey.

Add all the ingredients in a saucepan, letting them boil in a water bath for 30 minutes, over low heat. After giving the time, hang up and wait for it to cool.

You can take two tablespoons of the syrup a day to help your body recover without failing to follow medical recommendations.

The preservation and use time of the syrup is a maximum of 1 month.


Plants are great allies to aid the recovery of the organism. To help the intestine, you can prepare a drink with:

  • 2 tablespoons of chamomile;
  • 3 guava leaves.

Add the ingredients with 100ml of water and boil. After boiling, smother the drink for 10 minutes and drink.

Homemade serum

The ORS is great to aid in rehydration and can be done at home, always according to medical recommendation:

  • 1 liter of mineral water;
  • 1 coffee spoon of salt;
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Mix the salt and sugar in a liter of mineral water, after mixing drink during the day, following the guidelines.

Read more: What is homemade serum for?


If diarrhea is not treated, it can cause severe dehydration. So you need to pay attention to the symptoms that can also manifest, such as:

  • Fever above 39 ºC;
  • Drowsiness, lack of response or irritability;
  • Weakness;
  • Dizziness;
  • Dry eyes;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Pallor;
  • Fainting.


Some health problems that the patient already has can also influence the diarrhea to last longer or keep coming back.

In such cases, it may be Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome responsible for this.

In most cases, diarrhea is a short-term problem, lasting for days. But if it persists longer in children and adults, it is recommended to see a doctor immediately.


To reduce the risk of diarrhea, some measures can be taken, such as:

Sanitization of hands

The ideal is to wash your hands well and use alcohol gel, especially before eating or after going to the bathroom.

Shared environments, such as public transport or classrooms, can facilitate the transmission of infectious agents, so care must be taken with hygiene.

Care when traveling

When traveling, prefer to drink bottled water and opt for cooked foods, avoiding the consumption of raw meats and dairy products, which have a higher risk of contamination.

Depending on where you are traveling, make sure you have a vaccine.

Take care of the food

Give preference to healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits and vegetables. Avoid fried foods and fatty foods, especially if you eat outside.

When preparing food, take care of hygiene and storage.

Keep vaccination up to date

Keep an eye on the vaccination card to see if all doses are taken. If not, the problem can be easily resolved by going to a health center or clinic.

Keep hydrated

The ideal is to consume about 2 liters of water per day for our body to function properly.

Therefore, pay attention to hydration, especially on warmer days when we end up losing fluids through sweat. Water, juices, coconut water and isotonic are some of the options.

Reduce stress

Exercise, get enough sleep, watch your favorite programs, read, plan and travel. These are some tips on how to reduce stress in your daily life, enjoy life better and prevent diseases.