Many a times, diarrhea does not require medical treatment and clear up in just a day or two. However, in some cases, it can get quite severe, leading to serious dehydration in the patient. In such instances, a visit to the doctor becomes a necessity. It should be noted that diarrhea is not actually a condition but rather a symptom of certain health issues. There can be many different causes leading up to diarrhea. If diarrhea appears to be chronic or complicated, it is best to consult a doctor so as to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
What is Explosive Diarrhea?
During explosive diarrhea, the stool passes more violently and is accompanied by a loud noise. The stool is passed out together with gas. This is generally caused due to infections, major changes in the diet, use of some particular drugs and certain health conditions already existing in the body. In some cases, explosive diarrhea can go away on its own. However, if it gets too severe, the patient may require urgent medical care.
Explosive diarrhea is not all about discomfort. It can even put you in some embarrassing situations due to the loud noises produced during defecation. Although explosive diarrhea is usually caused due to food poisoning or irritable bowel syndrome, it can also be caused due to an excess intake of alcohol, contaminated water, and emotional distress.
Even if you do absolutely nothing to stop diarrhea, it normally resolves on its own. However, you should stop yourself from participating in energetic activities during the period. You also lose a lot of water and electrolytes while suffering from diarrhea. This can leave you completely dehydrated. Hence, it is also important to take the rehydration seriously.
What Happens During Explosive Diarrhea?
Explosive diarrhea does not occur very commonly. Therefore, knowing the factors that lead to it can be helpful. Normally, stool consists of about three-quarter water and the remaining one quarter is intestinal secretions, mucus, fat, fiber, and protein that is not digested by the body. It is the job of the large intestine to absorb the extra amount of fluid from the stool so that it is not so watery when passed out. However, during explosive diarrhea, this normal functioning of the large intestine is disrupted, thereby leading to a more liquid consistency of the stool. It is not only the consistency that gets affected, but even the bowel movements get uncontrollable and more frequent. Due to highly reduced absorption of fluids from the large intestine, the volume of the stool goes up filling the rectum beyond the usual capacity it can take. Due to this, the contraction during defecation is unusually strong. At the same time, the rectum also gets filled up with gas. Hence, ejection is more forceful and louder.
When the digestive system is functioning normally, the food gets converted into a thick liquideous mass known as the chime. This chime is passed on to the large intestine where it gets converted into a semi-solid mass. As it moves further, this mass gets converted into solid which is the stool. When passed out from the body, the stool may be firm, but it still has a soft consistency and is expelled in the form of narrow and long, sausage-like shapes.
However, during explosive diarrhea, the residual nutrients and undigested fibers are consumed by the bacteria present in the gut which leads to the release of gas. At other times, the air can also enter the body while swallowing or is pushed out from the bloodstream leading to excessive flatulence. This, together with the excess volume of the accumulated stool can push the rectum beyond its normal capacity. As this happens, the internal anal sphincters open up involuntarily and put pressure on the external sphincters. This results in a strong urge to defecate.
Therefore, when the external sphincter is opened up voluntarily even for a short time, the stool pushes out with a violent force. Since the sphincters do not open up fully, they offer even greater resistance to the passing stool. This is the reason why the excretion becomes explosive.
Explosive diarrhea is mainly accompanied by the three processes as given below:
- The contents present in the gut move very rapidly owing to increased activity in the bowel and an inefficient absorption of the water and nutrients
- The water in the bowel is pushed out into the intestinal lumen
- Since the water does not get absorbed by the colon, it keeps on accumulating in the lumen.
Due to these factors, the bowel movements become more frequent than usual. In some cases, it may also be accompanied by the excretion of blood and excess amount of intestinal mucus.
Explosive Diarrhea vs. Normal Diarrhea
It is not normal for a person to suffer from diarrhea. Most often, it is an indication of an underlying health condition. At the most, it is considered normal for a person to defecate twice a day. If the bowel movements are not regular, it can also reduce to 3 times a week. In no instance is the defecation process is supposed to feel uncomfortable or painful. If the defecation goes down below 3 times each week, the person is said to be suffering from constipation. However, if the bowel movements go above 3 times in a day, it is definitely diarrhea. Diarrhea is also determined based on the consistency of the stool that is passed out.
Normal diarrhea often occurs in an acute manner with no previous indications. The stool becomes very watery and eating some specific food can worsen the condition even further. Abstaining from these foods can be helpful. The person suffering from normal diarrhea will feel a persistent urge to defecate even if he/she has had a bowel movement just recently. In some cases, the condition may also be accompanied by pain and abdominal cramps. However, the problem goes away quite rapidly within just a few days. However, there might be some slight disturbances in the normal bowel movement for a few days to follow.
Explosive diarrhea also occurs in an acute manner. However, it is much more severe as compared to normal diarrhea. The intensity may, however, differ from one person to the other. The patient will experience constant discomfort due to an excess of gas formation in the stomach, and the stool is passed out forcefully accompanied by a loud noise, which is absent in normal diarrhea.
Symptoms of Explosive Diarrhea
When Diarrhea Gets Severe, it is Accompanied by the Following Symptoms.
- Too much water in the stool
- Excessive gas
- Loud farting sounds while defecating
- Hyperactive sounds from the bowel
- Uncomfortable feeling in the anus after defecation
- Uncontrollable urge to pass out stool
Depending on the factors that have led up to explosive diarrhea, it may also be accompanied by nausea, abdominal distention, cramps, vomiting, pain, excessive sweating and loss of appetite.
Different Causes of Explosive Diarrhea
Several different factors can lead up to explosive diarrhea. Listed below are some of them.
Diet is one of the major factors that can trigger explosive diarrhea. It has a tendency of causing mild to major diarrhea problems. It is a known thing that people tend to avoid many different food items due to their propensity to cause flatulence. However, there may be more than just one reason to be cautious about the food you eat. Sometimes, certain components present in the food can act as allergens giving rise to a condition also known as intolerance. For example, lactose intolerance is a common issue faced by many people. During lactose intolerance, the person concerned lacks some specific enzymes that are required for proper digestion of the milk and dairy products. There are a large number of other substances, leading to intolerance, namely, sorbitol, fructose, and mannitol.
- Excess intake of fiber
An increase in the intake of high fiber foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and bran cereal may also be held responsible for causing explosive diarrhea. This is because all of the fiber you consume is not digested by the body. Hence, they move rapidly through the gut, leading to an excess of stool formation in very short intervals. Along with an increase in the stool volume, increased fiber intake can also cause excessive flatulence leading to violent excretion.
Along with fibers, fruits and vegetables also contain some sugars and starches that are not properly digested by the body. Hence, if consumed in large quantities, they can naturally lead to bloating. Even if it’s the healthiest of smoothies packed with nutrients, it is recommended not to consume more than one cup at a time. However, if you are looking to increase the fiber intake in your diet, it is recommended that you increase the amount in a more gradual manner so that the body gets enough time to adjust to this increase in the fiber intake.
In some cases, several health issues can lead to a poor rate of water and nutrient uptake from the intestines, leading to an increase in the stool volume and rapid movement of the contents through the intestine, thereby leading to diarrhea.
Infections from bacteria and virus can also lead to explosive diarrhea. This is because, during the infection, the stomach and the intestinal walls get inflamed thereby disrupting the digestive process. In such cases, medical treatments are not recommended. However, it is advisable to increase the fluid intake so as to prevent dehydration. This type of diarrhea can occur from strains such as Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli, and salmonella. Together with diarrhea, these bacteria can also cause damage to the intestinal cells.
Apart from bacteria and virus, infection from parasites is also a leading cause of explosive diarrhea. Giardia lamblia is considered to be the most common parasite for this type of infection. It usually attacks people who have poor immunity and is most often contracted while traveling. This type of diarrhea is mainly caused due to contaminated water, insufficiently cooked food and improper methods during cooking.
Both prescription drugs as well as over the counter products have a tendency to cause explosive diarrhea. Even simple items such as laxatives that are used as a treatment for constipation can cause explosive diarrhea if consumed in excess or not used as per the instructions. Some antibiotics can also change the functioning of the bowel, leading up to diarrhea.
Although often overlooked, the environment that you live in can also be held responsible for causing serious cases of diarrhea. There are bacteria present everywhere in the food that you eat, the water you drink and even in the air that you breathe. Since not all of them are toxic, you do not suffer major disruptions in the bowel movement. However, if your immediate surroundings has a high level of toxins given out by plants or animals or even synthetic toxins, the risk for diarrhea is greatly increased.
- Medical Conditions
Some underlying health conditions can also cause diarrhea. Ulcerative colitis is the most common one of them. Other causes include inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome, although these are relatively less common.
When Should you See a Doctor?
In most cases, it takes only a few days for diarrhea to go away. However, if it lasts for several days, it is advisable to visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis of the cause. In case of children, they should be referred to a health care provider if it lasts longer than two days. If you notice any of the following things in the stool, a doctor should be contacted immediately.
- Black stool
It is also an indication that you need to fix an appointment with the doctor if the explosive diarrhea is accompanied by high fever and extreme pain in the rectum and stomach.
Regardless of whether diarrhea has been caused due to some food item or infection, if not treated in time, diarrhea can turn quite grave leading to severe dehydration. Therefore, it is very important to be careful with your diet and consume a lot of fluids and nutrients to make up for the loss. Even after diarrhea has been relieved, you will still need time to replenish the lost nutrients and fluids and regain the strength required to carry out day to day activities.
Diagnosis of Explosive Diarrhea
During the diagnosis of explosive diarrhea, the doctor may ask you a few questions such as:
- How long you have been suffering from diarrhea
- Whether the stool is black
- Whether the stool contains blood
- If you have been taking some medications
The doctor may also ask if you have any clue about how you might have contracted diarrhea. For example, whether it was a certain food you ate, some drink you took while traveling, whether it was after you went swimming, so on and so forth. After the necessary information has been collected, the doctor will perform a physical examination and have your stool, and blood tested.
Treatment for Explosive Diarrhea
Unless the condition becomes too aggravated, it is not really necessary to fix an appointment with the doctor. Over-the-counter drugs are considered to be sufficient. However, there are certain things that you can do so as to make the condition more bearable and speed up the recovery process. This includes:
- Drinking lots of water and electrolytes in order to allow yourself to rehydrate. You can use the commercially available electrolytes in order to make up for the lost salts and minerals or simply add a bit of rock salt and lemon juice to the normal drinking water and maybe a little bit of sugar or honey to improve the taste. Rock salt can be helpful mainly because it has potassium as well as some other vital minerals. You can also opt for sports drinks for the same effect.
- It is also important that you stay away from certain food items, namely the ones that trigger intolerance. This mainly includes milk, gluten, and dairy products. It is important to watch the diet at least for a few days till the problem resolves.
- Loperamide is one of the commonly used anti-diarrheal drugs that can be effective in reducing the frequent need to defecate. If it has been caused due to bacteria, the doctors may give a prescription for antibiotics. Probiotics, namely those containing lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii can also be helpful in easing the digestive process, thereby providing relief from diarrhea.
Home Remedies to Treat Explosive Diarrhea
Since banana has a high amount of potassium, it can help you regain your energy much faster. It also helps in producing firm stool. You can increase the intake of low fiber fruits, vegetables and juices in order to reduce bloating.
Garlic is very effective in fighting bacteria present in the gut. If you have ulcerative colitis, consume slippery elm with a large quantity of water so that it can form a coating over the colon and alleviate the condition.
Yogurt is a very good probiotic, full of beneficial bacteria. They fight the bad bacteria present in the colon and, thereby, clean up the intestine. It has been proven that yogurt can reduce the recovery period by a significant degree. You can either consume yogurt alone or add it to your smoothies.
- Starchy Food
Starchy foods are already high in nutrients. Therefore, it is best to take them without any added ingredients. Avoid frying.
- Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds contain mucilage that helps in thickening the membranes and hardening stool. It can be highly effective in treating diarrhea. You can mix on a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds with yogurt and consume it. However, it is advisable not to give fenugreek seeds to very young children.
Ginger helps in relieving diarrhea by easing the digestion process. You can either consume ginger products or prepare some ginger tea and drink it. This will also provide relief from the cramps and pain accompanying explosive diarrhea. However, ginger should not be used by the patients with high blood pressure.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
It forms a coating on the stomach and strengthens the intestines with pectin, the active ingredient present in it. If explosive diarrhea has been caused due to bacteria, apple cider vinegar helps to deal with the infection directly. Mix one to two tbps of apple cider vinegar with about eight ounces of water and drink it twice a day for best results.
Chamomile contains the active element tannins that provide relief from irritable intestine and upset stomach. You can drink herbal tea made from chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves.
Blueberries are rich in pectin and also have powerful antioxidative and antibacterial properties. You can either eat the blueberries directly as fruit or prepare tea, soup or extract the juice from it. It can help in alleviation of all the symptoms of diarrhea and also help in hardening the stool.
- Orange Peel Tea
Drinking orange peel tea several times a day can help in providing effective relief from diarrhea.
How to Prevent Explosive Diarrhea?
It may not be possible to prevent diarrhea entirely. However, you can always take some steps that can help in protecting your health. Some of the preventive steps include
- Washing your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap every time after using the lavatory, changing diapers or before handling food items
- Drink water from bottles that have standard packaging. Use the same while traveling as well.
- Wash and peel raw fruits and vegetables prior to eating.
If you happen to contract diarrhea despite the preventive measures
- Increase your fluid intake so as to prevent dehydration
- Stay away from carbonated drinks, juices with high sugar content, caffeinated drinks, dairy, sweet food items, greasy and fried food and high fiber food
- Maintain a plain diet consisting mostly of soups and low starch foods
With proper care, it will hardly take you a day or two to get relief from explosive diarrhea.
Complications that may arise due to Explosive Diarrhea
Diarrhea is in no way a threatening condition. It is quite normal for everyone to suffer from diarrhea every once in a while. However, some people are always at a higher risk of diarrhea than the others. These could include people who are frequently traveling, those who are taking medications, patients with bowel diseases and people living in areas of poor hygiene. Explosive diarrhea may be highly uncomfortable and even painful. But they usually go away in just a few days. However, if you do not take care of your health, the condition can escalate to severe complications. Some of the common complications arising out of diarrhea include
Due to an inefficient uptake of fluid by the intestine, you can easily lose a lot of fluids through the stool. Without a sufficient fluid intake, you have every chance of getting severely dehydrated. It is usually the elderly, children and people with poor immunity who are at an increased risk of dehydration during diarrhea.
- Chronic diarrhea
It is chronic diarrhea if you have been suffering from the condition for more than 4 weeks. In such cases, thorough medical testing is required for a proper diagnosis of the triggering factor.
- Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
This is caused by E. coli and is quite rare. If left without proper treatment, it can even result in kidney failure. The hemolytic uremic syndrome is usually accompanied by abdominal pain, blood in the stool, decreased urination, fever, vomiting, and bruising. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
It is very easy to confuse the symptoms of explosive diarrhea with other types of diarrhea. Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor to identify the exact cause and come to a favorable solution. As long as you stay hydrated and stick to the treatment procedures, the condition is not threatening at all. It is advisable to keep on consulting the doctor if you encounter any severe distress despite the treatment.