What is diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is the frequent and repeated passage of stool or liquid bowel movements, excessive watery evacuation of fecal material.

What are the causes of diarrhoea?

There are many causes which can be divided into two major categories:

Infectious and Non-infectious.

Infectious causes of diarrhoea are a result of abnormal micro-organism invading the bowel. Non-infectious causes of diarrhoea result from disturbance of the normal function of the bowel in absorbing fluids contained within it.

Infectious causes can be further sub-divided as follows :-

i) Bacteria - For e.g. clostridium difficile, E-coli, salmonella (agents of typhoid fever) shigella (cause of epidemic bacillary dysentry) campylobacter (another food-handler is contaminant). Gastro- enteritis and enteric fever from contaminated food products. Vibrio Cholerae (agent of cholera).

ii.) Viruses - There are many kinds of viruses that are capable of causing diarrhoea in infants. During the first five years of life mostly all children acquire ROTAVIRUS (which causes inflammation of the stomach and bowels to cause diarrhoea )

iii) Parasites - A number of parasites are also known to cause diarrhoea in children and adults like –

- Cryptosporidium (especially in immuno deficient children )
- Entamoeba histolytica (causing amoebic dysentry)
- Giardia Lamblia.

Non-infectious causes of diarrhoea can be further dividend as follow :-

Anatomical defects of the bowel (intestinal tract)

Hormonal imbalances (endocrinopathies)

Feeding difficulties

Food poisoning



Miscellaneous causes.

Anatomic defects capable of causing diarrhoea include :-

Malrotation of the bowel (when twisted)

Duplication of a section of the intestine.

Hirschsprung disease is an abnormal condition present at birth which is due to the absence of normal nerves (ganglia) in the bowel wale. This results in enlargement of the bowel above the point of missing nerves.

At times, new born babies and infants suffer from physiological diarrhoea due to the gastrocolic reflux which is normal. Such conditions include passage of frequent formed stool or stools immediately after feeds. An exclusively breast fed baby often passes frequent watery stools which are golden yellow in colour and non-offensive and inspite of several stools he is happy, hungry and gains good weight. But if there is mucous or the stools are offensive and the baby is not looking well then medical intervention is required .


PODOPHYLLUM : This is very well suited to infants with a bilious tendency. It is indicated when stools are watery, yellowish green, profuse and with a jelly like substance in it. At times there is bilious vomiting along with diarrhoea accompanied by a lot of rumbling and shifting pain in the stomach because of flatus, which makes the abdomen full like a balloon. (It is especially useful in teething diarrhoea of children).

Podophyllum 200, 3 pills one hourly should be given for acute attacks till it settles the stomach. Then follow with Podophyllum 30, 5 pills four times a day for a month to improve the infants digestion.

NATRUM SULPH: This is indicated when diarrhoea is due to eating fruits, vegetables, cold food and drinks in the rainy season. Normally the child suffers from morning diarrhoea, that settles down by noon. The urge to pass a stool drives the child out of bed – initially there is a rumbling and gurgling in the bowels with sudden noisy spluttering greenish stools.

Nat. Sulph 200, 3 pills every 2 hours should be given. Once the attack settles down then Nat Sulph 30, 5 pills four times a day for a month is necessary to improve and help digestion.

ARSENIC ALBUM: Here the diarrhoea is accompanied by severe vomiting which is due to food poisoning. There is great restlessness, with intense thirst for water. But after drinking water it is again vomited out. Stool are blackish watery, very offensive and worse at night time.

Arsenic Alb 200, 5 pills two hourly will bring the attack under control.

The greatest threat to the life of a child with severe diarrhoea comes from dehydration. The loose watery stools drain out water plus valuable chemicals and minerals from the body. Such substances as sodium, chloride and potassium are essential for the regulation of the body’s fluid and acid base balances. If diarrhoea continues unchecked severe illness or even death will result from ensuing dehydration and the acidosis that accompanies it.


  1. Decrease in the amount of urine. The urine looks dark yellow or light brown.

  2. Loss of usual elastic quality of the skin.

  3. Sunken eyeballs.

  4. Rapid breathing

  5. Drowsiness or even unconsciousness.

To prevent dehydration continuously give sips of boiled water with a pinch of salt, sugar and lime. 90% of dehydration is prevented by salt, sugar, lime and water.

Please boil and filter your water, 90% of the problems arise from contaminated water.

If you keep the above mentioned homoeopathic medicines at home as a first aid they will help in 70% of the cases. Medicines should be selected according to the symptoms described, matched with the patient’s symptoms.

Readers are advised that the medical advice offered in this column pertains to the generalized treatment of condition. Kindly consult your doctor before self-medication.