No one expects the hero of an infection to be diarrhea, but that might just be the case! A recent study at Brigham and Women's Hospital found that when there’s an infection in the gut, diarrhea comes to the rescue to help clear it up.
Diarrhea’s Healing Power
The study focused on two molecules involved in fighting an infection. One is an immune molecule, which increases the levels of the molecule that causes diarrhea. In other words, the immune system triggers the diarrhea as a means of fighting the infection. The results were positive—not only did the infection decrease, but so did the overall severity of the disease. In the case of an infection of the gut, it proved beneficial to allow the diarrhea rather than treating it as merely a symptom and trying to stop it.
From this study we can see the potential healing power of diarrhea, and most diarrhea stops on its own within a couple of days. However, there are times when it is a good idea to call your doctor, especially when it comes to children.
- Dehydration – Children and adults can more easily become dehydrated while suffering from diarrhea. Dry mouth or excessive thirst can be signs of dehydration. For young children, watch for crying with no tears or no wet diapers for 3+ hours.
- Bloody or Black Stools – Whether child or adult, this is cause for concern. Never ignore blood in your stool or the stool of your child.
- High Fever – A fever of 102° is considered high.
- Long Lasting – This means more than 24 hours for children or more than 2 days for adults without improvement.
- Lethargy or Weakness – Pay attention to feelings or signs of severe weakness, dizziness, unresponsiveness, or unusual fatigue.
There is still much to learn about the human body and how different pieces interact, but it is always good to find out that something uncomfortable can be useful. If you have a concern about diarrhea or would like to know more about its potential benefits to your body, please make an appointment today with Dr. Sameer Islam.