Initial treatment of acute DIARRHOEA is to prevent or correct the loss of ﬂuid and ELECTROLYTES from the body. This is a priority especially in infants and elderly people. Rehydration can be achieved orally or, in severe cases, by urgent admission to hospital for the replacement of ﬂuid and electrolytes.
For adults with acute diarrhoea, short-term symptomatic treatment can be achieved with antimotility drugs such as codeine phosphate, co-phenotrope or loperamide hydrochloride. Adsorbent drugs, for example, KAOLIN, should not be used in acute diarrhoea, but bulk-forming drugs – ispaghula or methylcellulose
– can help to control the consistency of faeces in patients with ileostomies and colostomies (see ILEOSTOMY; COLOSTOMY), or those with diarrhoea caused by DIVERTICULAR DISEASE.
Irritable bowel syndrome, malabsorption syndrom, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and diverticular disease are often accompanied by diarrhoea; for more information on these conditions, see under separate entries.
ANTIBIOTICS may sometimes cause diarrhoea and this side-eﬀect should be borne in mind when the cause of the condition is being investigated.