Osmotic diarrhea refers to a gastrointestinal ailment characterized by an increased passage of watery stools. Normal stools are already composed of a high percentage of water, but osmotic diarrhea implies an excessive loss of water with feces.
Osmotic diarrhea is thought to occur when food is not fully absorbed in the small intestine, exerting an osmotic force which draws an excessive amount of fluid into the intestine. Osmotic diarrhea can occur in any way and is especially prone in individuals intolerant to sugar and those suffering from malabsorption syndrome.
The absorption of water in the digestive tract is highly dependent on the adequate absorption of solutes, the components of the food you eat. If your food simply remains in the gut and is not absorbed, water will not be absorbed either and diarrhea will likely result. Additionally, more water may be drawn away from the body into the digestive tract as well, further contributing to osmotic diarrhea.
Osmotic diarrhea typically results from one of the two situations:
Other osmotic diarrhea causes include:
Aside from the increased frequency and watery consistency of stool that is characteristic of osmotic diarrhea, additional symptoms may also be present. Symptoms can develop within a few hours after eating or drinking the particular trigger and often makes those affected feel exhausted and tired due to the excessive loss of water.
Osmotic diarrhea symptoms include:
Severe symptoms of osmotic diarrhea may include:
Mild cases of osmotic diarrhea can be cured without the use of any medication. Once the cause of diarrhea has been cleared from the body, as in the case of certain types of foods, the condition typically begins to resolve on its own. However, as is the case with most chronic diarrhea conditions, the replacement of fluids is very important, as it is lost in excess. If dehydration is allowed to persist, it may lead to electrolyte imbalances, which can lead to further complications in children and the elderly.
Severe cases of osmotic diarrhea should be assessed by a physician as they will be able to recognize the subtle signs of electrolyte imbalance and ensure appropriate treatment is implemented right away.
Generally speaking, stopping the foods causing your case of osmotic diarrhea is advised, along with getting plenty of rest and taking an over-the-counter painkiller if needed. The BRAT diet, consisting of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast is also a good way for reducing the frequency of stools.
Depending on the underlying cause, prevention of your osmotic diarrhea may be different. However, the following recommendations for diarrhea prevention can be a good rule of thumb:
Diarrhea is a condition that can most often be taken care at home, but some cases require the aid of an experienced medical professional. However, for the most part, your body will take care of itself until your bowel symptoms have resolved. The following are some of the most commonly used home remedies for osmotic diarrhea:
Foods recommended for diarrhea sufferers include: