Diarrhea (Atisaar)
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Introduction

 

Diarrhea is a disease of the digestive system which occurs due to malfunctioning of either the stomach or the bowels. Its Sanskrit name is atisaar. A person suffering from diarrhea will need to visit the toilet often in order to defecate. Even the stools of diarrhea are different – they will be increased in volume, with more stickiness or wateriness.

Diarrhea is a very common ailment all over the world. Every person in the world must have suffered from some or the other form of diarrhea at some time or the other. This extremely frequent digestive ailment can occur at any age, any location and with people of any social condition.

Though diarrhea is a very common disease, humankind has not yet been able to conquer it completely. Even today, every minute, seven children all over the world are dying due to diarrhea. Such diarrhea deaths are observed more in the financially backward countries where there are no proper amenities of hygiene and nutrition. However, diarrhea control and treatment is very much possible. Most cases of diarrhea deaths are due to gross ignorance about the condition.

Definition of Diarrhea (Atisaar)

 

Quite simply put, diarrhea or atisaar is the condition in which the frequency of the bowel movements increases drastically. The stools contain a large amount of water, which is voided at very frequent intervals. People suffering from diarrhea also suffer from dehydration due to the loss of water.

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Causes of Diarrhea (Atisaar)

The major causes of diarrhea are related to the diet of the person. The following kinds of diet can cause diarrhea in people:-

  • Unhygienic food, or food prepared in contaminated water
  • Intolerance to some kinds of foods, such as lactose intolerance
  • Over-intake of foods with excess of vitamin C
  • Too much spicy and oily food
  • Undercooked meats and eggs
  • Foods contaminated with microorganisms
  • Food that is either too hot or too cold
  • Food that is prepared in unclean conditions

Apart from these, the following environmental factors can also cause diarrhea:-

  • Pollution
  • Chemicals dangerous to the wellbeing of human health
  • Stressful conditions
  • Unsuitable climatic conditions
  • Vices like smoking, alcoholism and drug addiction
  • Antibiotics

Infants form a large share of diarrhea victims. Infant diarrhea is caused due to the following factors:-

  • Overfeeding of breast milk or powder milk
  • Infection due to feeding bottles
  • Ear and throat infections
  • Changes in environment

From the Ayurvedic point of view, atisaar or diarrhea is caused by vitiation of any of the three doshas, i.e. vata dosha, pitta dosha or kapha dosha. Ulcerative colitis is caused mainly due to vitiation in the pitta dosha, while infective diarrheas, such as the one due to salmonella, are caused by vitiation in the kapha dosha.

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Types of Diarrhea (Atisaar) and Their Symptoms

There are different types of diarrhea depending on the severity of their symptoms. These diarrheas are as follows:-

(i) Acute Diarrhea – Acute diarrhea or enteritis is the name given to the kind of diarrhea that lasts over four weeks. This is a curable type of diarrhea, which is caused due to several microorganisms and parasites. The following is a table of the microorganisms that can contaminate food causing diarrhea:-

Bacteria

Viruses

Other Parasites

Campylobacter

Rotavirus

Entameba histolytica

Salmonella

Herpes simplex virus

Giardia lamblia

Shigella

Cytomegalovirus

Cryptosporidium

Escherichia coli

Norwalk virus

Pinworm, hookworm, tapeworm

The acute diarrhea is contagious. If healthy people come in contact with the stools of an infected person, then they too can get infected through the pathogen present in the stools.

The symptoms of acute diarrhea are as follows:-

  • Frequent watery stools
  • Loss of weight
  • Irritability
  • Itching in the anal area
  • Rashes

(ii) Chronic Diarrhea – Chronic diarrhea is the diarrhea that persists for a long time. Some chronic diarrheas can persist for the entire life of a person. Chronic diarrhea is manifested in different ways in the human body. The following are some examples of chronic diarrhea types:-

Type of Chronic Diarrhea

Caused Due To

Characteristics

Infective Chronic Diarrhea

Salmonella bacteria and other parasitic worms and amebas.

The diarrhea gets healed in the normal course of time, but the infectious salmonella persists in the stools. Hence, the person can infect others with the diarrhea even though he or she is cured.

Malabsorption

Intolerance to foods such as gluten of wheat, lactose of milk, fructose of fruits and pernicious anemia, pancreatitis, etc.

The person is unable to absorb food in the small intestine and also the pancreas.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The cause of this type of diarrhea is not properly known.

It causes ulcerative colitis which is the condition of passing bloody stools.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The cause of this type of diarrhea is not properly known.

Abdominal pain and cramping before passing stools, persistent urge to defecate even after one bowel movement is finished, mucus in the stools, bloating and gas.

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Symptoms of Diarrhea (Atisaar)

All diarrheas are characterized by the following symptoms:-

  • Watery and loose stools
  • Large volume of water and mucus in the stools
  • Abdominal pain and cramping during passing stools
  • Frequent defecating urges; even after a visit to the toilet
  • Vomiting and feeling of nausea
  • Dehydration, which may become quite severe

For symptoms of particular types of diarrhea, refer to the table given in the Causes section.

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Complications due to Diarrhea (Atisaar)

Diarrhea is quite a serious condition in itself. But persistent diarrhea can cause several other more serious complications. Some of the complications that persistent diarrhea can cause are as follows:-

(i) Dehydration – Dehydration is one of the most serious issues with diarrhea. It is the leading cause of the high mortality rates of diarrhea, especially in children. During each bowel movement, copious amounts of water are voided from the digestive system. This leads to loss of essential fluids from the body. If not checked in time, the person will die of dehydration rather than the diarrhea itself.

In order to ascertain the presence of dehydration, one must check for the following warning signals:-

  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Dryness and chapping of the lips
  • Dryness of the skin
  • Less frequent urination, accompanied by pain during micturation
  • Sunken painful eyes, but without tears.

(ii) Hole in the Bowel – Due to excessive diarrhea, there could be damage in the inner lining of the large intestine. This could cause a hole in the bowel. This situation becomes more serious if the bacteria from the bowels infect the abdominal cavity.

(iii) Toxic Mega Colon – After several extreme bouts of diarrhea, the person’s colon becomes totally redundant in passing stools and urine. This condition is called as toxic mega colon and its symptoms are abdominal pain, cramping, swelling in the rectal area, weakness and even fever. In the direst situations, the colon may rupture. This situation has a slim chance of being corrected with surgery; it is usually a fatal condition.

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Transmission of Diarrhea (Atisaar)

Atisaar or diarrhea is a very contagious disease if it is caused due to microorganisms. The following are the modes by which it can be transmitted from one person to another:-

  • Not washing hands with disinfectant soap after stools
  • Improper disposal of the fecal waste matters
  • Improper washing of underwear and nappies and infants
  • Contaminated water conditions, especially in the monsoon

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Prevention of Diarrhea (Atisaar)

Diarrhea is contagious, so extreme care must be taken in order to prevent it. The steps taken to prevent diarrhea are as follows:-

  • Eat only hygienic food from reliable sources. Avoid visiting hotels and inns whose food preparation techniques are dubitable.
  • Be very careful of the cleanliness of the water you drink. For long distance travel, carry filtered or boiled water bottles from home. Avoid drinking from public water sources.
  • While outside, opt for tea or coffee rather than juices. This is because, for tea and coffee the water has to be boiled, and hence it becomes purified.
  • Avoid using public toilets as much as possible. If you have to use them in an emergency, select the cleanest toilet possible.
  • Keep soaps, towels, etc. for each family member separate.
  • Wash your hands with a disinfectant soap or hand wash after each visit to the toilet.

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Diet during Diarrhea (Atisaar)

Diarrhea is a dietary disorder which affects mainly the intestines, the pancreas and the liver. Hence, taking a suitable diet will reduce most of the complications of diarrhea. A diarrhea patient must follow the dietary regimen given below:-

  • All flesh foods must be avoided; take more fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Avoid difficult to digest foods such as coffee, oily and spicy foods, sugars, etc.
  • Stay totally away from alcohol and tobacco.
  • Incorporate plenty of water sources in your diet, such as freshly prepared fruit juices. Also add glucose, lemon juice with salt and sugar, orange and sweet lime juices, etc. in the diet.
  • Increase the intake of water, as diarrhea leads to dehydration.

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Ayurvedic Treatment for Diarrhea (Atisaar)

Ayurveda has a very systematic treatment for atisaar. Ayurveda addresses most of the symptoms and complications of diarrhea, and hence helps in the treatment. Below is given a list of several herbs that Ayurveda has ascribed with curative properties for atisaar.

Ayurvedic Name of the Herb

Biological Name of the Herb

Common English Name of the Herb

Action on the Human Body

Ajwain

Trachyspermum ammi

Bishop’s Weed

Ajwain is a traditionally used remedy for all kinds of digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, dyspepsia, gastritis, etc. The oil from the ajwain seeds has special potency in treating diarrhea.

Amla

Emblica officinalis

Indian Gooseberry

The dried amla fruit mixed with lemon juice and sugar candy helps in treatment of bacterially infected diarrheas. Even the amla leaves mixed with honey or buttermilk helps in treating this condition.

Badh

Ficus bengalensis

Banyan

The leaf buds of the banyan tree are useful in the treatment of chronic diarrhea and dystentry.

Bahera

Terminalia belerica

Belleric Myroblan

Belleric myroblan mixed with chebulic myroblan and amla gives the mixture of triphala, which is a very famous Ayurvedic mixture. This is useful for the treatment of diarrhea.

Bel

Aegle marmelos

Bael fruit, Bengal quince

The unripe or half ripened fruit of the bel is perhaps the most effective and commonly used Ayurvedic treatment for chronic diarrhea. It is to be taken with jaggery.

Curry Patta

Murraya koenigi

Curry leaves

Curry leaves, when tender, are very suitable remedies for the treatment of diarrhea.

Harad

Terminalia chebula retz

Chebulic Myroblan

Chebulic myroblan is used in the preparation of triphala along with belleric myroblan and amla. Triphala is a frequently prescribed medicine for the treatment of diarrhea.

Jeera

Cuminum cyminum

Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds are very effective in the treatment of diarrhea.

Kahu

Terminalia arjuna

Arjuna

The bark of the arjuna has curative properties for diarrhea.

Khulakudi

Centella asiatica

Indian Pennywort

The leaves of the khulakudi are used to treat dysentery and diarrhea in children.

Kikar

Acacia arabica

Babul

The leaves, the bark as well as the gum of the babul tree have curative properties for diarrhea when taken in the form of specific preparations.

Makoy

Solanum nigrum

Black Nightshade

The raw juice of the black nightshade is used for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Mehndi

Lawsonia inermis

Henna

The seeds of the henna tree mixed with ghee and rolled into balls have potency to treat dysentery.

Methi

Trigonella foenum graecum

Fenugreek

A herbal tea made with fenugreek helps in cleaning the alimentary canal of excessive mucus. It can cure peptic ulcers also.

Palash

Butea monosperma

Butea

The gum of the butea tree is effective in treating diarrhea. Since this is a mild agent, it is suitable for the treatment of diarrhea in infants and children.

Sowa

Anthenum sowa

Dill

Dill seeds are a powerful carminative. They are mixed with fenugreek seeds to make a viable medicine for diarrhea.

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Post Your Comments

Comment Script

Comments

My father is 87, he has been on steroids for several years for his rheumatoid arthritis. He suffers from constant diarrhea and has lost 40lbs. He has been through every test except food allergy testing. He is still very mentally sharp but this is killing him. Any solutions?+
#1 - joan - 03/20/2008 - 23:14
My boyfriend is 26 and has chronic diarrhea. He has also lost about 30 pounds and we have no clue what is causing it. We have had every test imaginable done. And he is on natural supplements to help aid digestion and NOTHING. This is killing him also. Please anyone who knows anything would help!
#2 - Lorin - 04/12/2010 - 09:33
Hi I m 28 and had chronic diahreaa for past 2 or 3 yrs I have lost 15lbs. I have done every test and it came out negative. I m thinking I have worms and the test came out negative. I think I will take something for that. My dog had it for a long time and I did too. He is cured but I m not. My gf got infected as well. So I m thinking worms foe sure.
Gluck
#3 - Creative - 02/08/2011 - 06:06
This is what to do

1) Stop all dairy products
2) Stop all fruits including fruit juices
3) Stop all typical carbohydrate and starch foods such as rice, bread, flour, oats, corn, potatoes,
etc.

4) START eating 2-3 whole lemons blended and then filtered out the pulp into distilled water. Drink 1-2 hours between meals, not with meals. 2-3 lemons per 24 hour period staggered out.

5) Cut up fresh garlic (whole large piece per day length of hand) into tiny bits and fry in a pan in [@] cold pressed olive oil until brown, maybe 20 minutes.

6) Cut up fresh garlic maybe 6-8 cloves and fry them separately as they burn faster than ginger. Oops #5 is supposed to be ginger.

7) Cut up fresh broccoli. Fry in a pan for 10 minutes or so on medium and mix in the garlic and ginger. Add salt and black pepper for taste. I use sea salt.

8) Add chopped up chicken breasts that you boiled before for an hour or two and deboned.

9) Hard boil 6 eggs, remove yolk after they are cooked. Mash up just the whites left, add fresh lemon juice and salt.

These are the best things I have found in over 2.5 years that have reduced my times per day to the bathroom for #2 diarhhea. This is my own invented diet, I am on no drugs for uc ever.

I am just taking udos antiinflamatory enzymes maybe 4 per day. I think the main part of my diet invention cure is the lemon garlic and ginger as well as taking out all the other problem foods.

You will thank me for sharing this info with you after you do this diet list for some time.
#4 - Dylan - 08/05/2011 - 12:35
in ayurveda buttermilk indicated for the diarrhea
. carrot soups also works good. chew jeera
#5 - dr usha - 12/21/2011 - 04:51
My 6 year old child is suffering from chronic constipation, diarrhea as well as frequent urge to urinate (sometimes even after 15mins). He is on laxatives but his condition has not improved. I have given him coconut water, parsley water, kismish soaked overnight even applied hing but to no avail. Please help me!!
#6 - J.Singh - 04/06/2013 - 10:36
I have chronic diarrhia or something and don't loose weight or don't gain weight.pls help
#7 - Raj vikram - 12/06/2014 - 12:34
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