Diarrhea: Nursing

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Diarrhea is a condition where loose or watery stools are discharged from the intestines more frequently than normal, so more than three times in 24 hours. Now, based on its duration, diarrhea can be classified as acute, if it lasts for 2 weeks or less; persistent, if it lasts for more than 2 weeks but less than 30 days; and chronic if it lasts for more than 30 days.

Okay, let’s focus on the physiology of the intestines, which include the small intestine, as well as the large intestine or colon, and the rectum. The small intestine is the longest portion of the gastrointestinal tract, and it’s the main site for food digestion and absorption of most nutrients, such as amino acids, fatty acids, monosaccharides, vitamins, and minerals, as well as water.

The food that is not digested and absorbed travels to the large intestine, where the remaining nutrients and water are absorbed, and the stools are formed. From the large intestine, stools travel down to the rectum, and are eliminated from the body through the anus.

Moreover, the intestines contain a variety of non-pathogenic bacteria, which form the healthy intestinal flora, and aid with food digestion, as well as with the prevention of intestinal invasion by pathogenic bacteria and other microorganisms.

Now, based on the cause, diarrhea can be defined as infectious or non-infectious diarrhea. As its name implies, infectious diarrhea is caused by pathogenic microorganisms, which include: bacteria, most commonly Salmonella spp, and Shigella spp, as well as Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, and Clostridioides difficile; as well as viruses, such as adenoviruses, norovirus, and rotavirus; and protozoa, such as Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba spp.


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