Call An Office Near You

»   Orinda-Lafayette-Moraga

»   San Francisco

»   San Ramon-Walnut Creek

»   Berkeley-Oakland

Request A Free Assessment
Your Name:


Your Email:

Diarrhea Can Cause Severe Illness in Older Adults

Diarrhea is a condition that involves the frequent passing of loose or watery stools – it is the opposite of constipation. In most cases, diarrhea lasts a short time and subsides on its own.

Viral infections cause most cases of diarrhea. Norovirus is the most common cause of epidemics of diarrhea among adults and school-age children. The stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, is a viral infection in the intestines that causes inflammation and swelling. This condition causes bouts of vomiting and diarrhea and is treated with rest and increased fluids. Bacterial infections cause the more serious cases of diarrhea and typically occur from contaminated food or drinks (food poisoning). Other causes include parasites, intestinal disorders or diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, reaction to certain medications such as antibiotics, intolerance to foods, and stress.

Children and elderly individuals who have diarrhea are at increased risk of dehydration. To combat fluid loss, drink different kinds of clear liquids, such as water , decaffeinated tea, clear broth or flat sodas. Avoid juices. Choose foods that are easy to digest. These include bananas, rice, cooked potatoes, liquid gelatin, applesauce and dry toast. Avoid dairy products; foods that are greasy, spicy or high in fiber; caffeine and alcohol. To prevent diarrhea, practice hand hygiene and safe food-handling.

Acute diarrhea refers to three or more stools in 24 hours; the average adult has one episode of acute diarrhea per year. If you, or any person 70 years or older, experience this, it should be reported to your physician. Chronic diarrhea is defined as diarrhea that lasts for more than two weeks. Call your health care provider right away if you: think the diarrhea might be caused by a medicine you are taking; have bloody or black diarrhea; notice signs of dehydration; have diarrhea often; have other symptoms such as fever, cramps, pain, chills or vomiting, or if you feel very sick. It would be helpful to have these data available: when your diarrhea started; any new prescription or over-the-counter medications you are on; any other symptoms, like fatigue or lethargy; if other family members are sick; new foods you may have eaten; and any group setting you may have been in, like an adult day care or social group, and if any of those people are sick.

Diarrhea, if not treated in a timely and appropriate manner, may lead to serious health complications in elderly individuals. It can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and in the worst case, death.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Active Member