Diarrhoea is an increase in the frequency of defecation, accompanied by abnormally soft and watery faeces.
Diarrhoea is generally rapid in onset, producing watery stools, with associated abdominal cramps, flatulence and weakness.
Family members may similarly be suffering at the same time as acute diarrhoea is often due to a mild infection. Diarrhoea is most often due to a viral or bacterial infection.
Dehydration is potentially a severe problem in both elderly and the young.
First line treatment with diarrhoea is oral rehydration therapy. This is especially important in the elderly and the very young.
The patient should avoid fizzy sugary drinks as they often make the problem worse, and standard rehydration drinks are much safer. Patients with diarrhoea should be advised to drink plenty of clear, non-milky fluids such as water and diluted orange. Patients with diarrhoea should avoid milk as there can be a temporary intolerance to lactose which can make diarrhoea worse.