Sickness and Diarrhea

Occasional stomach upset or vomiting are fairly common symptoms in adults and in most cases no treatment is needed if the symptoms resolve within a couple of days. It is noteworthy that feeling sick andvomiting can be a reaction to an acute ingestion of a food or beverage that has irritated the lining mucosa of gut. Sickness and diarrhea is mostly due to gastroenteritis, a gut infection that is caused by a viral or bacterial agent such as norovirus. The infection goes away in few days if the immune system is functioning well.

Sometimes, it can be due to some serious problems like bowel blockage or stones in the kidney. Make sure to see a healthcare professional if your symptoms are getting worse or if the condition is not responding to traditional pharmacological regimen.

What Causes Sickness and Diarrhea?

1.       Stomach Flu

Stomach flu is another name for viral Gastroenteritis that is caused by a variety of virusesincluding norovirus, adenovirus, etc. These microorganisms tend to produce inflammation inside the intestines. Stomach flu is not a serious issue to worry about and most cases resolve without seeking any treatment.

Classic symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting. These symptoms stays for 1-3 days and sometime longer. But if left poorly managed, it may lead to dehydration, which if left untreated can be dangerous for the stomach.

Stomach flu can be managed with very simple lifestyle changes, including:

  • Drink more fluids

In sickness and diarrhea, you should increase the intake of fluids. Children should consume at least 1 ounce of fluid once every 30-60 minutes. Drinking in small portions is recommended to avoid worsening of the vomiting.

  • Watch what you are drinking

Only drinking water might not help as you may need electrolytes and minerals in sickness and diarrhea. Talk to your doctor for suggestions of brands. For adults, oral solutions for rehydration can be used. In addition, diluted juices, sport drinks are also recommended. Avoid drinking sugary, caffeinated drinks and alcohol, they may worsen the situation.

  • Eat bland and then normal

Previously, the misconception was to have only bland diet in sickness and diarrhea. It is okay to have mild diet in first 2 or 3 days but normal diet should be continued that is rich in proteins and fat to meet the bodily requirements.

  • Intake of nutrients:

Eat foods with high quality potassium such as fruit juice and banana, normal quantities of fat and salt from soul and yogurt to control the diarrhea.

  • Use of OTC medicines

In stomach sickness and diarrhea, medications aren't necessary but some prefer to take them anyway to shorten the duration of symptoms. You need to take pharmacological preparations especially antibiotics with great caution. Also make arrangements to keep these drugs away from the reach of children.

  • Have rest

Give your body some rest to facilitate the recovery process.

2.       Appendicitis

It is a pain that you feel in your tummy for short intervals of time without any noticeable injury or infection. The pain becomes localized to the right lower abdomen (which is also a classic hallmark sign of appendicitis). The pain worsens on manual pressing, resulting in loss of appetite, sickness and diarrhea.

Possible causes of appendicitis are inflammation of appendix due to swollen lymph nodes of bowel wall. Symptoms include inflammatory swelling of appendix, negative changes in appetite, sickness and diarrhea.

If together with diarrhea and sickness, you're experiencing gradually-worsening abdominal pain, call your doctor.

3.       Gallstones

In gall bladder, small solid stones or salt crystals are formed that are also referred to as gallstones. Causes of gallstones include long standing hypercholesterolemia, abnormally high body mass index, lower rate of gallbladder movement and genetics.

Gallstones are of two types which are:

  • Cholesterol stones: Mostly (80%) gallstones are cholesterol gallstones, they are greenish-yellow in color.
  • Pigment stones: They are smaller, darker and made of bilirubin.

Symptoms include upper abdomen pain and back pain for a few hours in case of acute cholecystitis. Other classic symptoms include nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal issues like indigestion, bloating, gas and stomachache.

4.       Medicines

Chemotherapy agents are used for the management of cancer; however, most chemotherapeutic agents limit the patient compliance due to high risk of adverse effects, such as vomiting, sickness and diarrhea. Whenever you start using new medication or change diet, talk to your doctor to know if there are any substitutes available.

5.       Urine Infection

In children, urine infection is very common. It presents very frequently with sickness and diarrhea in addition to chills, rigors and vomiting. The infection usually responds very well to an antibiotics course (after identification of microorganisms and sensitivity analysis). Most children recover completely from urine infection after which some additional tests are also suggested by your doctor.

Most of the time, it is dependent on the age of your child and the severity of infection. For further details, check leaflet of urine infection.

6.       Some Other Common Causes

  • Pregnancy

In first few weeks of pregnancy, mild sickness and diarrhea is a common complaint that does not require any treatment. For more severe and compromised overall health, make sure to consider anti-sickness pills for the management of vomiting.

  • Overdrinking (alcohol especially) and overeating

Eating and drinking too much (especially alcohol) can cause indigestion, abdominal bloating and diarrhea. Too much intake of fiber can also worsen the situation.

  • Stress and anxiety or fear

Stress causes diarrhea by releasing copious amounts of stress hormone in the system that may interfere with the normal processing of food that enters into our body.

7.       More Causes

Some other causes of sickness and vomiting include:

  • Sea-sickness
  • Motion sickness
  • Extreme pain
  • Gallbladder infection
  • Food poisoning
  • Reaction to smells
  • Heart attack
  • Brain damage, brain tumor
  • Ulcers
  • Cancer
  • Psychological diseases
  • Exposure to anesthesia
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Migraine
  • Vestibular neuritis
  • Hepatitis
  • GERD
  • Infection in ear
  • Diabetics
  • Crohn's disease
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • BPPV
  • Anorexia nervosa

When to See a Doctor

If your diarrhea persists or if your sickness develops into constant vomiting, you should worry. Vomiting on multiple occasions can be very serious situation. In the case, call and emergency or visit a doctor. Some more serious conditions include:

  • Frequent vomiting for 2 or more days
  • Continuous vomiting that you can't even keep fluids in your stomach for some time
  • Green colored vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss until you become sick
  • Extreme abdominal pain
  • Extreme chest pain
  • Bloody vomiting appearing like granules of coffee
  • Temperature with rigid neck
  • Extreme headache 
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