FACTS: There are many causes of diarrhea, from medications, to artificial sweeteners, to lactose intolerances, to chronic diseases, to parasites and viruses. But bacterial infections are one of the more common causes, and Campylobacter is one of the most common culprits.
When physicians classify diarrhea, they wax expository with words like osmotic, secretory, or exudative – depending on how, whether, and which bodily fluids end up in the bowels. (The young, of course, enjoy their own unimitable vocabulary.)
But the primary medical difficulty with diarrhea – discomfort aside – is the substantial loss of fluids victims suffer, not to mention the loss of salts and minerals that are necessary to maintain normal bodily health.
The young and old are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and care should be taken to monitor for warning signs such as thirst (obviously), dry skin, light-headedness, crying without tears, dry diapers for unusually long periods, and reduced activity levels.
And as always, prevention is the best medicine. The corkscrew-shaped campylobacter bacterium, like so many others, is commonly contracted from undercooked food or the inadvertent ingestion of fecal matter such as the “leavings” of household pets.
But if the undesired occurs? Rest, and be sure to keep your electrolytes and fluid levels from ending up in arrears.