Acute diarrhea: definition
Acute diarrhea is a sudden functional gastrointestinal disorder, which may be only a symptom of a broader disease, alone or summarize the disease.
It is characterized by numerous stools, pasty or liquid in a fecal volume often increased.
Diarrhea is called "acute" when it lasts less than ten days with more than three loose or watery stools per day (according to WHO).
Its impact on the overall condition can be very fast (a few hours).
This justifies an active monitoring of its evolution by weighing the patient, especially at the extreme ages of life: infant, child, old man.
Acute diarrhea: risk
According to the National Institute of Health Surveillance (VS): "Data from sentinel network can estimate that every winter, acute gastroenteritis (AGE) is the cause of 1 million to 2.5 million consultations in general practice. During the epidemic peak, the incidence of consultations for GEA is estimated between 300 and 600 consultations per 100,000 people per week but can be up to 900 consultations per 100,000 people per week as in January 2001. "
Besides fatigue and illness hampering social and professional activity, diarrhea is a major factor of dehydration, such as vomiting which is frequently associated during digestive infectious epidemics.
Caused by sudden water and electrolyte loss, it has serious consequences in the elderly and children. One percent weight loss has an impact on body balance. From 4% weight loss, dehydration is called severe and requires hospital care generally taken. Coma sets in, sometimes to death (eg cholera).
Diarrhea makes ineffective, partially or totally, because the drugs are less well absorbed (transit too fast). On the other hand, the dehydrated body is more sensitive to their action. For example, blood levels of anti-hypertensive drugs rises, which greatly lowers blood pressure, since overdose is added to the current dehydration.
Acute diarrhea: operation
In the colon (last part of the intestine), the stools are normally drained by reabsorption of water and nutrients. In case of diarrhea, intestinal reabsorption is impaired or completely reversed, with body water leak and useful ions. This flight is of course increased by possible concomitant vomiting.
The most common causes are infectious, often epidemic (virus) and usually transient in people whose immunity is correct.
- Gastroenteritis epidemic, the culprit is the rotavirus in 70-80% of cases.
- Food Poisoning, individual or collective, with bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli (Escherichia coli). Some coliform bacteria produce toxins that can kill (called E. coli STEC).
- Parasitic infections are often transient, and are characterized by "digestive crisis" more or less close together, a tapeworm infestation or lamblias. Always thinking of returning from a trip to the tropics or a known endemic countries.
The antibiotics disrupt the intestinal flora for at least three weeks, particularly if they are broad spectrum. According to the personal profile of digestive flora and repeat treatments (especially in children) modification of commensal bacteria (which digest food for the person hosting) causes chronic poor absorption of nutrients, to break the curve infant growth or cause weight loss.
Anxiety, intense emotions (competitions, exams) also trigger acute diarrhea, called motor, as well as certain medications or treatments (veinotonic, radiotherapy).
Finally general diseases or infections of adjacent organs also have a strong digestive repercussions: appendicitis, peritonitis, endometriosis, gluten intolerance ...
Acute diarrhea: symptoms
The most banal is the epidemic viral gastroenteritis: it does not last more than four days and heals spontaneously. It is in the first 24 hours the symptoms are more pronounced: the stools are liquid or soft with abdominal cramps (colic). There may be a transient fever (sometimes up to 41 ° C with chills).
In general, any accompanying fever diarrhea (or vomiting) is a sign of severity, as well as blood in the stool.
Weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, thirst reflect the intensity of dehydration as well as less frequent urination, weight loss, and sunken eyes. These warning signs are signs of severity. Weighing the patient is very important to quantify the loss of water, and make a treatment decision.
All signs of severity require rapid medical attention.
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