What is diarrhoea?

Back to top
  • Diarrhoea is commonly called a runny tummy and is when you pass large volumes of watery stool at least 3 times in 1 day. A person can also vomit.5,6
  • Diarrhoea is a very common illness in all age groups, but children under 5 are the most vulnerable.
  • Across the world, more than 1.6 million people die of diarrhoea every year. Many of them are children under 5 years.21

Causes of diarrhoea

Back to top
  • Germs like viruses, bacteria or parasites that usually come from unclean water or food that has not been cooked or washed properly and unclean water.5,22
  • Certain medication, like antibiotics, can cause diarrhoea.5
  • Some diseases in the gut can cause diarrhoea for a short time (acute) or for a longer period (chronic). If diarrhoea lasts longer than 10-14 days, it could be due to these chronic conditions.5

Signs and symptoms of diarrhoea

Back to top
  • Loose, watery stools
  • Urgent need to go to the toilet
  • Abdominal pain (pain or cramps in your gut)
  • Nausea & vomiting – feeling sick and throwing up may sometimes occur with diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite (especially if nauseous)
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Fever or chills
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Signs of dehydration

Healthy tips when you have diarrhoea

Back to top

When you have diarrhoea, the most important thing to do is to make sure you do not dehydrate.

  • Drink fluids to replace water and electrolytes.
  • Older children and adults should continue to eat food, and keep drinking oral rehydration solution while their tummy is still running.
  • Babies that are breastfed should continue to be nursed.
  • Healthy persons need to see a doctor if the diarrhoea lasts longer than 3 days despite treatment, or if they have severe abdominal pain, high fever, or bloody stools
  • Wash hands correctly and well, after going to the toilet.

Treatment

Back to top

Medication that can stop diarrhoea and prevent dehydration can be taken.

Some of the medicine can be bought from a pharmacy and you will not need a prescription from the doctor.

These include:

  • Oral rehydration solutions
  • Medicine to slow down or reduce passing of stools:
    This medicine works in the gut to help reduce passed stools as well as cramps.
  • Antibiotics:
    Are only needed if you have a fever, or have blood or mucus in the stool.

What is dehydration?

Back to top

You can become dehydrated when your body cannot balance the intake and loss of water, which makes up 60% of your body.

This tends to happen more easily to children or the elderly.4

Breathe: The air you breathe out is damp from the water in your lungs.

Sweat: Is when you cool your body

Urinate or Defecate: Is when the waste is removed from your body

Causes of dehydration

Back to top

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

Back to top

Healthy tips to prevent dehydration

Back to top

You need to drink enough water every day, no matter whether you are sick or not. You should drink 2-3 litres of water each day, depending on body weight and activity 4

When you lose water, you also lose electrolytes like sodium, chloride, potassium and bicarbonate.
Healthy fluids are:4,20

  •  ORS Oral Replacement Solution
  • Avoid fizzy high sugar and caffeinated drinks
  • Tea with no sugar
  • Water in which rice or cereal was cooked, with or without salt
  • You need to ensure you drink enough fluid when the weather is hot, or when you are sick especially with a fever, and when doing physical exercise
  • Ensure children drink enough water and take water bottles to school

 

Treatment of dehydration

Back to top

Oral Replacement Solution (ORS), which is normally a powder containing important electrolytes, that is mixed with clean water, should be taken as soon as possible. Make sure to mix it correctly and give it according to instructions. Drinking ORS too quickly could result in vomiting. Do not stop treatment; wait 5-10 minutes and try the ORS again, but more slowly.

REHIDRAT Oral rehydration solution

  • REHIDRAT® is SA’s  No. 1 oral electrolyte replacement solution, contains an optimal balance of sugars, salts and minerals to replenish lost fluids and help prevent and treat dehydration and electrolyte depletion.6 IQVIA Data December 2020. **
  • REHIDRAT® is available in 3 flavours – Blackcurrant, Orange, Vanilla and contains no artificial preservatives, sweeteners or colourants and is suitable for the whole family.
  • Preparing REHIDRAT® is easy – follow us on YouTube for easy instructions
  • Offer oral rehydration solution to infants using a method that they are familiar with e.g. a baby bottle, cup or spoon. Always prepare the solution fresh every day and dispose of any solution not used after 24 hours.
  • Infants less than 1 year of age should be given ½ to 1 cup (100 – 200 ml) of REHIDRAT® for every bowel movement.
  • Children 1 to 5 years of age should be given at least one cup (200 ml) for every bowel movement, while older children and adults should drink enough REHIDRAT® to quench their thirst and replace the fluid lost in every stool.

S0 REHIDRAT® ORANGE. Reg. No. Y/24/181.

S0 REHIDRAT® BLACKCURRANT. Reg. No. Y/24/214.

S0 REHIDRAT® VANILLA. Reg. No. N/24/103.

Each 14 g sachet of powder contains: Sodium Chloride 0,44 g, Potassium Chloride 0,38 g, Sodium Bicarbonate 0,42 g, Glucose 4,1 g, Sucrose 8,1 g.

For full prescribing information, please refer to the Professional Information approved by the medicines regulatory authority.

Please note: this is an education information leaflet only and should not be used for diagnosis. For more information on Diarrhoea & Dehydration, consult your healthcare professional.

1. Sinusitis. The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook Consumer. Accessed on 11 November 2019. Available at www.merckmanuals.com/home/ear-nose-and-throat-disorders/nose-and-sinus disorders/sinusitis.
2. Eccles R. Mechanisms of symptoms of common cold and flu. Birkhäuser Advances in Infectious Diseases. 2009 Birkhäuser. Verlag Basel/Switzerland.
3. Polverino M, et al. Anatomy and neuro-pathophysiology of the cough reflex arc. Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine 2012;7:5.
4. MedicineNet. Dehydration. Available at www.medicinenet.com/dehydration/article.htm Accessed on 23 March 201811 April 2020.
5. Woods TA. Diarrhea. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 88.
6. Nathan A. Treating acute diarrhoea in adults. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 2008;281:217.
7. Sibanda M, et al. Chronic constipation in adults. S Afr Pharm J 2018;85(1):34-42.
8. Johnson J. Intestinal worms in humans and their symptoms. Medical News Today. Accessed 2020/04/20. Available at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324042#takeaway.
9. Soil-transmitted helminth infections. World Health Organisation. 14 March 2019 [online] Accessed 2019/07/25. Available from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/soil-transmitted-helminth-infections
10. Conducting Zone. LumenCandela Online learning material. Accessed on 11 November 2019. Available at https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ap/chapter/conducting-zone/.
11. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Cold vs Flu. Accessed on 16 November 2019. Available from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm.
12. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in collaboration with The South African National Department of Health and World Health Organization (WHO). Healthcare Workers Handbook On Influenza (last updated:
May 2014). Accessed on 16 November 2019. Available at www.nicd.ac.za/assets/files/Healthcare%20Workers%20Handbook%20on%20Influenza%20in%20SA%20_12%20May%202014(1).pdf.
13. Buensalido JAL. Rhinovirus (RV) Infection (Common Cold). Accessed 16 November 2019. Available at https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/227820-print.
14. Common Cold. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy Professional. Accessed on 16 November 2019. Available at www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/respiratory-viruses/common-cold.
15. Albrecht HH, Dicpinigaitis PV, Guenin EP. Role of guaifenesin in the management of chronic bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infections. Multidiscip Respir Med 2017;12:31. doi: 10.1186/s40248-017-0113-4.16. WebMD. Why you cough. Accessed on 2019/11/09. Available at https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/overview?print=true.
17. Cracking the cough code. Harvard Health Publishing. September 2018. Accessed 2019/11/09. Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/cracking-the-cough-code.
18. Truter I. Cough. SAPJ 2007;74(4):20-27.
19. Rehydration therapy. Centre for Disease Control (CDC). Accessed 2020/04/13. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/cholera/treatment/rehydration-therapy.html.
20. The treatment of Diarrhoea – A manual for physicians and other senior health workers. World Health Organisation. Available at https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/43209/9241593180.pdf;sequence=1.
Accessed 11 April 2020.
21. GBD 2016 Diarrhoeal Disease Collaborators. Estimates of the global, regional, and national morbidity, mortality, and aetiologies of diarrhoea in 195 countries: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study
2016. Lancet Infect Dis 2018; 18: 1211–28.
22. Hill DR, Ryan ET. Management of travellers’ diarrhoea. BMJ 2008;337:a1746.
23. Guidelines for the Management of Acute Diarrhea After a Disaster. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Accessed 2020/04/14. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/disease/diarrheaguidelines.html.
24. Allen S. How to deal with constipation. SAPJ 2008;75(7):23-26.
25. Constipation. South African Gastroenterology Society (SAGES). [Internet] 2020. Accessed 2020/02/18. Available from https://www.sages.co.za/Patients/Constipation.
26. Farrer F. Helminth infections – a review. Prof Nurs Today 2016;20(4):3-7
27. Adams VJ. et al. Paradoxical helminthiasis and giardiasis in Cape Town, South Africa: epidemiology and control. African Health Sciences 2 June 2005;(5)2:131-136
28. Kwitshana ZL, Tsoka JM, Mabaso MLH. Intestinal parasitic infections in adult patients in KwaZulu-Natal. SAMJ Sept 2008(98)9:709-711
29. Vermox HCP Claims Study. Study completed for Johnson & Johnson (PTY) LTD. Prepared by Kantar South Africa (PTY) LTD. Accessed May 2017.Global Strategic Insights & Analytics, December 2019.

ZA-BE-2000007

ZA-REH-2200004

Related Brochures