What is it?

By the term diarrhea, we mean a condition characterised by loose, watery and possibly more-frequent bowel movements.
The causes of this condition are many and vary from patient to patient:

  • Food intolerance;
  • Intestinal hypersensitivity;
  • Dysbiosis;
  • Food intolerance;
  • Influenza viruses;
  • Medicines such as antibiotics;
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.

If diarrhea lasts a few days and is sporadic, there is no need to worry. In case it lasts several weeks, and is associated with symptoms such as continuous abdominal cramps, intense sweating, blood loss with feces, fever, presence of pus, mucous or black stools, the patient must schedule a doctor’s visit.
A diarrhea associated with the previous symptoms can be classified as chronic. In these case, the main concern is the dehydration. In fact, dehydration is especially dangerous in children and the elderly, and must be promptly treated, in order to avoid the development of more serious problems.

Diarrhea or dysentery?

Often people use the terms diarrhea and dysentery as synonyms, but in truth they are two completely different conditions:

  • Diarrhea is a condition characterized by at least 3 bowel movements throughout the day, characterized by soft, watery and loose stools;
  • Dysentery is an infection in your intestines that causes bloody diarrhea.

If there is no blood in the stool, it is not dysentery.


The underlying causes of diarrhea are multifactorial:

  • Bacterial infections caused by bacteria such as Shigella, Salmonella or Campilobacter;
  • Viral infections caused by viruses such as Rotavirus, Herpes simplex or Cytomegalovirus;
  • Stress;
  • Nervousness and anxiety;
  • Dysbiosis;
  • Food intolerance;
  • Parasitosis caused by parasites such as Giardia lamblia, Entameba histolytica, and Cryptosporidium;
  • Antibiotics, chemotherapy, or magnesium-based antacids
  • Bowel disease such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Gallbladder surgery can develop diarrhea., due to the way food moves in the digestive system or increased bile in the colon;
  • Traveler’s diarrhea is a digestive tract disorder that commonly causes loose stools and abdominal cramps. It’s caused by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.


  • Patient’s history of lifestyle, diet and drug use;
  • Stool examination for parasites, bacteria or viruses
  • Periodic exclusion of gluten or lactose from the diet, to check probable conditions of celiac disease or lactose intolerance;
  • Colonoscopy, to check for a condition of intestinal inflammation;
  • Sigmoidoscopy to analyze the lower part of the rectum.


Certainly diarrheal symptom that should cause greater concern is that of dehydration, especially in children and elderly people.

The signals that the body sends in case of severe dehydration are the following:

  • Dark colored urine;
  • Difficulty urinating;
  • Tiredness;
  • Exhaustion;
  • Daze;
  • Dry mouth and skin.

Main symptoms in children are:

  • Redness of the abdomen, eyes and cheeks;
  • High fever;
  • Dry tongue
  • Decreased tearing
  • Irritability;
  • Constipation.


Medicines to treat diarrhea are given only if this pathological condition should persist for continuous weeks.
The main drugs prescribed are antidiarrheal drugs, such as bismuth salicylate or codeine, inhibitors of intestinal motility.
Or antispasmodics or anticholinergics, to reduce the frequency of abdominal cramps, such as atropine or alverine.
Or antiemetics to stop vomiting, such as chlorpromazine.


In case of diarrhea, the main objective of a diet is to normalize stool consistency and to restore lost fluids and salts.

The main rules are:

  • Periodically eliminate gluten or lactose from the diet, to understand if the diarrhea is caused by a condition of celiac disease or gluten intolerance;
  • Absence of alcohol;
  • Absence of nervines such as coffee, tea or chocolate;
  • Absence of intestinal irritating additives such as xylitol, mannitol or polyphosphates;
  • Absence of spicy foods and spices;
  • Absence of carbonized molecules during cooking;
  • Little high-fat meat and seasonings such as butter, lard, or margarine;
  • Cooking in soupy mode, vegetables or legumes, in such a way as to restore the lost liquids;
  • Use astringent foods such as annurca apple, lemon, carrot, rice;
  • Incorporate probiotic foods such as low-fat plain yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, or buttermilk;
  • Respect the consumption of 2, 2.5 liters of mineral water per day, always to balance the losses of liquids and mineral salts again.