Diarrhea in the elderly

Diarrhea in the elderly

Diarrhea is a liquid or watery defecation more than usual or sometimes transfused with bloody mucus, Often caused by infections or food poisoning after eating food contaminated with germs.

The symptoms will last for a few days. But in some cases, it may be chronic for a long time. Which can be caused by other diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Symptoms of diarrhea
Common disease symptoms There will be liquid defecation, Taken more than 3 times. To excrete more often than normal for each person or bloody mucus is taken once or more within 24 hours, in some cases, other symptoms may be associated with such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, and fever.

Although diarrhea is often a mild symptom But it may cause suffering to the patient and become chronic and cause other diseases later. Patients should seek immediate medical attention if they experience the following symptoms.:

  • Dehydration or diarrhea for more than 2 days, for young children or infants, if symptoms for more than 1 day should immediately see a doctor. Due to the risk of death from dehydration.
  • Have severe pain in the abdomen or rectum.
  • Fever is higher than 39 degrees Celsius.
  • Bloody or black stools.

Causes of diarrhea in the elderly
Normally, the intestines absorb nutrients in liquid form from what is eaten into the body, leaving only the fiber left behind. But when diarrhea occurs, Causing the intestines to not work normally. Those nutrients are not absorbed and excreted from the body.

Liquid defecation or bloody discharge can be caused by several reasons. The causes of acute and chronic diarrhea are classified as follows:

Acute diarrhea
Persistent diarrhea is often caused by gastroenteritis and gastroenteritis. Due to bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection as follows

Bacterial infection
Bacteria that often contaminate water or food and cause diarrhea as a result, including campylobacteria Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli.

Viral infection
There are many types of viruses that cause diarrhea such as rotavirus, norovirus, cytomegalovirus. Herpes Simplex Virus Hepatitis, etc. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in children. Which can be cured within 3-7 days, but may cause problems in digestion and absorption of lactose found in milk.

Exposure to parasites
Parasites can enter the body through contaminated food and water and live in the digestive system of people, The parasite that is commonly found is Gaudia, Antamicrobial bacteria or amoeba dysentery and the cryptosporidium.
In addition, acute diarrhea can be caused by other factors such as anxiety, drinking too much alcohol, allergies to certain foods, appendicitis or the intestinal mucosa are damaged by radiation, etc.

Chronic diarrhea
Diarrhea that has persisted for at least 2 weeks or more Is considered to be chronic diarrhea This could be caused by the following factors:

Gastrointestinal disease and abnormal bowel disease
Such as Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, Irritable bowel syndrome, Diverticulitis Chronic pancreatitis or colon cancer, etc.

Some people may have trouble digesting certain types of nutrients. Like the lack of gastric juice for digestion of lactose which is the most common type of sugar in milk or dairy products. In addition, consuming large quantities of sweetener substitutes can be one of the contributing factors to diarrhea.

A response to certain medications
Certain medications can cause diarrhea, such as antibiotics, cancer drugs or antacids containing magnesium, etc.

Diarrhea may occur after certain surgeries. Like intestinal surgery or surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Diagnosis of diarrhea
If the symptoms of the disease are not severe. First, your doctor will ask about your medical history. Inquire about the illness and a preliminary physical examination such as blood pressure testing. But if the symptoms are severe or the cause of the disease is not clear, The doctor may need additional laboratory tests:

  • A blood test, where the doctor takes a sample of the patient’s blood for examination. To look for signs of disease or disorders that may be the cause of diarrhea.
  • Stool examination, Patients need to collect their own stool samples. In order for the doctor to test for blood, germs, or signs of disease that may be the cause of diarrhea.
  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy, is to insert the camera into the mouth and examine the organs of the digestive system to determine the cause of diarrhea.

Diarrhea treatment
In the case of acute diarrhea, Most do not require specific treatment. Because the sickness will gradually improve accordingly, But the patient should drink lots of water or drink sugar, electrolyte ORS to compensate for the loss of water and electrolytes. Additionally, taking medications to relieve diarrhea as your doctor or pharmacist recommends, such as Diosmectite, along with drinking water and electrolyte as the main treatment, may improve symptoms.

Some research has found that patients with acute diarrhea with very mild symptoms. The frequency of defecation decreased after using Diosmectite. This drug has the ability to absorb toxins in the digestive tract and may help to inhibit the pathogens that cause diarrhea. Both bacteria, viruses, and other substances.

In addition, if the diarrhea is caused by a rather serious disease or disorder such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Patients need to be supervised by a gastroenterologist. In order to plan the treatment of the disease or disorder that occurred correctly.

However, people with diarrhea should pay attention to their own abnormal symptoms. Especially signs of dehydration and mineral salts This affects the work of muscles and other body systems and is considered especially dangerous in children, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems. Because it may damage internal organs If symptoms are severe The body will experience shock and loss of consciousness.

For adults Be aware of signs that the body is exposed to dehydration, such as extreme thirst. Urinating less than usual and appear dark, dry, tired and dizzy, etc. In infants and young children will find symptoms of dry mouth and tongue, cry no tears, not urinating at all in 3 hours or longer, deep eyes, high fever, and symptoms of restlessness or irritability.

The treatment of dehydration and electrolyte is initially achieved by drinking enough clean water. Including eating foods that supplement minerals and vitamins for the body Drink sports drinks or drink water mixed with sugar, mineral salt, ORS The infants and young children should not drink sports drinks. But can drink mineral sugar, mineral water, ORS for children.

In addition, the patient should be careful about the cleanliness of food. By choosing to eat food that is cooked with hygienic manufacturing processes and focus on foods that are easy to digest such as porridge, boiled rice, soup, or bread and should avoid fermented foods, foods high in fat, caffeine drinks, desserts, dairy products, and spicy food. When symptoms get better, they may eat foods high in fiber. This includes products with good microbes or probiotics like yogurt or curd. Which contributes to helping the intestines to digest food well.

Complications of diarrhea
Most people with diarrhea do not have serious complications. But some people, such as pregnant women, the elderly, people with diabetes. or people with weak immunity, There may be an increased risk of the following complications than usual.

  • Dehydration and mineral salts
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Impaired lactose digestion
  • Uremia hemolysis syndrome If diarrhea from some type of infection
  • Other parts of the body respond to gastrointestinal infections, resulting in inflammation.
  • The infection spreads to other organs in the body.

Diarrhea prevention
Diarrhea is a common symptom of everyday life. Gastrointestinal infection is one of the main causes of diarrhea, so keeping it clean and eating healthy can prevent infection that can lead to diarrhea. By following these basic tips:

  • Wash your hands before and after eating or handling food, After going to the toilet, or catch other impurities to prevent the spread of germs.
  • In case you cannot wash your hands, Always use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. To help kill germs effectively.
  • Choose to eat food carefully such as eating hot food, fresh clean food, avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that are not cleaned. Raw meat and dairy products etc.
  • Do not leave food at room temperature for a long time, should be stored in the refrigerator. To prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Clean food preparation areas should be hygienic. Including washing your hands thoroughly While preparing food
  • Choose to drink clean water.

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