Causes and Prevention of Diarrhea

Causes And Prevention of Diarrhea
Causes And Prevention of Diarrhea

It is said that ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. In simpler words it means prevention is better than cure. This holds true for all communicable diseases especially those diseases that tend to affect our kids the most like diarrhea. Therefore, to prevent diarrhea effectively, one should know about the causes.

What Causes Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be infective or non-infective in nature. So if we control the transmission of infection, we can prevent diarrhea. It can occur by either consuming contaminated food or liquid like water, juice etc or by eating food with contaminated hands. A parent can pass infective organisms while feeding kids with dirty hands. Contaminated water can cause diarrhea in entire community if the source of drinking water is contaminated.

INFECTIVE DIARRHOEA: The organisms that cause diarrhea can be:

  • Virus like Rota virus
  • Bacteria like Ecoli
  • Parasites

Travelers diarrhea : It is seen that tourist travelling from abroad tend to fall sick due to diarrhea within 3-4 days of entering a new country as they black immunity against common diarrhea causing organism circulating due to poor hygiene conditions in host country.

NON- INFECTIVE DIARRHOEA: There have been known causes of diarrhea which are not caused by food contamination. Most commonly, they can due to following causes:

  • Use of laxatives
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Some rare tumors

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Prevention of Diarrhea

Maintaining hand hygiene and clean surrounding is the easiest and most promising way to prevent diarrhea. Following measures must be taken to prevent diarrhea spread

  1. Wash hands after going to toilet with clean water and soup
  2. Wash hand before cooking meals
  3. Wash hands before feeding meals
  4. Wash hands after changing diapers of kids
  5. Children less than 6 months should be exclusively breast fed. No water is required for babies less than 6 months of age. This almost guarantees no diarrhea in first 6 months. Breastfeeding also prevents diarrhea in later stage of infancy buy boosting immunity of the baby
  6. Use of toilets is a must. Do not defecate in open
  7. Do not eat raw meat or undercooked meet
  8. Wash and check all fruits and vegetables before cooking or raw consumption for contamination or worms.
  9. Carry your own water bottle from home while travelling.
  10. In case of absence of water purifier , boil tap water and consume after cooling
  11. Ask your sanitary infector of your area to check level of ‘residual chlorine’ in tap water at your home when suspect foul smell.
  12. Toilet seat should be regularly disinfected
  13. Consume food timely. Avoid consuming stale food. Refrigerate food if large quantity is left over for later consumption.

Vaccinations available against Diarrhea

  • Children under one year of age are recommended to get vaccinated by Rotavirus vaccine
  • Vaccine for Hepatitis A and Typhoid is also available

Since vaccination may be a costly affair, it is highly recommended to maintain good hygiene status to prevent all sorts of infective diarrhea.

I am a doctor and a public health specialist from Delhi. I have expertise in Obstetrics & Gynecology, child health and vaccinations. Formerly I worked with WHO’s immunization program in rural India as a technical consultant. I believe that accurate and relevant health information is the key to positive behavioral change subsequently leading to good health. I am an ardent traveler and a passionate writer.


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