Diarrhoea is having more frequent, loose, watery poo, which may be referred to as ‘stools’. You may get diarrhoea after being in contact with someone else who has it, or you may get it from food poisoning – after eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

Almost everyone has diarrhoea at some point in his or her life, including on holiday abroad, called traveller’s diarrhoea.Diarrhoea that comes on suddenly and lasts for no longer than a couple of days is usually referred to as “acute diarrhoea”. Most people with acute diarrhoea recover on their own. Diarrhoea that lasts more than two weeks is thought of as “chronic diarrhoea”. Typically, chronic diarrhoea requires medical care to find the underlying cause and treat complications, such as dehydration.

Many different problems can cause diarrhoea. Here are the major causes:

You are most likely to come down with diarrhoea after coming into contact with these infectious organisms and agents:

  • A virus, such as rotavirus, winter vomiting disease (Norwalk virus or norovirus), enterovirus, or a hepatitis virus.
  • A bacterium, such as E. coli, salmonella, shigella, C.diff (clostridium), or cholera(Vibrio cholerae).
  • A parasite, such as those that cause giardiasis and amoebiasis.

The length of time diarrhoea lasts often depends on what caused it. Diarrhoea from norovirus lasts around two days, for rotavirus, the duration is three to eight days,Campylobacter and salmonella infections may last two to seven days and diarrhoea from giardiasis can last several weeks.

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