Diarrhea is most commonly caused by viral infections, parasites or bacterial toxins. In sanitary living conditions where there is ample food and a supply of clean water, an otherwise healthy patient usually recovers from viral infections in a few days. However, for ill or malnourished individuals diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration and can become life-threatening without treatment.
Bacteria and parasites. Contaminated food or water can transmit bacteria and parasites to your body. Parasites such as Giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium can cause diarrhea. Common bacterial causes of diarrhea include campylobacter, salmonella, shigella and Escherichia coli. This type of diarrhea can be common for people traveling to developing countries.
Tap water (A common mistake travelers make is to avoid tap water but to place ice cubes in a beverage. Contaminated ice is still able to transmit disease. Do not use ice cubes.)Giardia parasite: Infection with Giardia (called giardiasis) is easily spread through child-care settings and contaminated water supplies, especially water parks and pools (the bacteria are resistant to chlorine treatment), children's "touch tanks" in aquariums and museums, and contaminated streams or lakes.
The common illness, which may last several days, often called "intestinal flu," is often due to one of a number of viruses that infect the bowel, making it weep fluid. The excess of fluid in the bowel leads to liquid stools. The inflammation may also be associated with cramping abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Other common infectious diarrheas may be caused by bacteria. These bacteria irritate the bowel and make it pour out fluid. The inflammation may also be associated with cramping abdominal pain. "Travelers' diarrhea" is due to particular bacteria common in certain areas of the world.
The BRAT diet works well for all ages. Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast are mild "binders," and they can be added to your regular diet. Some doctors also say to add plain yogurt to the list. Foods to avoid include milk products, fried foods, fatty meats, cookies, chocolate, spicy foods and citrus fruits