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Acute Diarrhoea is not a disease itself but a symptom that can have many possible causesExperiencing diarrhoea can be very unpleasant and can cause the body to lose a lot of fluid and dehydrate.

It is characterised by strong urges to go to the toilet multiple times throughout the day and frequent loose, watery stools. It’s very common in both adults and children. 


What causes Diarrhoea?
Acute diarrhoea (coming on quickly and severely) is usually caused by gut infections which lead to gastroenteritis (gastro).

Acute diarrhoea will last for less than 2 weeks.

Viral infections: most cases of ‘gastro’ are caused by viral infections. This could include rotavirus, norovirus, and viral gastroenteritis. Rotavirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhoea globally, causing around 40% of hospitalizations in children under 5 years old.

Bacterial infections: many of us have had the uncomfortable experience of food ‘poisoning’. Eating food contaminated with bacteria (e.g. Salmonella and E. coli) can lead to diarrhoea 12-48 hours after. Milk and chicken can be of particular risk if preparation or storage are inadequate. 

Other Causes: acute diarrhoea can also be caused by food intolerances, high alcohol consumption, or an adverse reaction to certain medicines. If diarrhoea continues for more than 2 weeks it may be a symptom of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or celiac disease.


How can Diarrhoea be Prevented?
If someone close to you has ‘gastro’ you must be mindful that it spreads very easily through hand-to-mouth contact after touching contaminated surfaces, or from contaminated food.

To help prevent the spread of diarrhoea:  

  • Wash hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and dry them well.  
  • Wash hands after going to the toilet, and after changing babies’ nappies. 
  • Wash hands before handling food and use clean kitchen utensils for food preparation. 
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks. 
  • Keep milk cold and in fridge. 
  • Cook raw chicken very well. 
  • Do not store raw meat near cooked meat. 

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