Diarrhoea is characterised by loose and watery bowel movements.

What is Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is a common medical condition in Singapore associated with frequent, loose, and watery bowel movements. It is usually an indicator of an underlying problem and is either acute, meaning it occurs suddenly and lasts for a short duration, or chronic, persisting for an extended period.

Although in some cases, diarrhoea can resolve on its own, if left untreated and is severe, it may cause other complications such as dehydration. It is important to seek treatment and advice from a doctor if diarrhoea does not stop after a few days or if it is chronic and interferes with daily life.

It is also crucial for individuals and children to practice good personal hygiene, food safety measures, and proper handwashing to reduce the risk of diarrhoea, especially when travelling.

What are the symptoms of Diarrhoea?

The main symptoms of diarrhoea include:

What causes Diarrhoea?

There are many causes of diarrhoea. The most common ones include: 

  • Infections: bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to diarrhoea. These include E. coliSalmonellaNorovirus, and Giardia.
  • Food poisoning: consuming contaminated food or water often results in diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: conditions and disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and coeliac disease can cause chronic diarrhoea.
  • Medications: certain medications, especially antibiotics, often disrupt the balance of healthy gut bacteria, leading to diarrhoea.
  • Food intolerances and allergies: allergies and food intolerances such as lactose intolerance can cause diarrhoea after consuming that particular food. 
  • Stress: emotional stress and anxiety can affect the digestive system and lead to diarrhoea in some individuals. This is known as nervous or anxiety diarrhoea
  • Traveller's diarrhoea: travelling to regions with different food and water quality may increase the risk of diarrhoea due to changes in diet and infections. 
Diarrhoea can be caused by the salmonella bacteria.

Is Diarrhoea painful?

Diarrhoea can be painful, but the level of pain depends on the severity, underlying cause, and individual factors. Often, it causes abdominal cramps, bloating, and discomfort.

Who is at risk of Diarrhoea in Singapore?

Diarrhoea can affect people of all ages and backgrounds in Singapore, just as it can in other parts of the world. However, certain factors may increase the risk of diarrhoea in Singapore. These risk factors include:

  • Contaminated food and water: consuming food or water contaminated with harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites, can lead to diarrhoea infections. In Singapore, the risk of such contamination is generally low due to strict food safety standards and a reliable public water supply. However, outbreaks can still occur, especially with poor food handling or water treatment.
  • Travel: people travelling to countries with lower sanitation standards may be at an increased risk of developing traveller's diarrhoea. Singaporeans travelling to regions with inadequate sanitation should take precautions, such as drinking bottled or purified water and practising good hygiene.
  • Immunocompromised individuals: people with weakened immune systems, such as those with certain medical conditions or undergoing immunosuppressive treatments, may be more susceptible to diarrhoea infections.
  • Young children: children in daycare or school settings may be at an increased risk of diarrhoea due to close contact with other children and poor hygiene practices.
Young children are susceptible to diarrhoea due to exposure to viral infections in school.

How is Diarrhoea diagnosed in Singapore?

In Singapore, the diagnosis of diarrhoea typically follows a standard medical evaluation conducted by doctors such as general practitioners (GPs), colorectal specialists, or infectious disease specialists. The diagnostic process for diarrhoea in Singapore involves:

  • Medical history: a detailed medical history, including information about the duration and frequency of diarrhoea, associated symptoms (such as abdominal pain, fever, blood in the stools), recent travel history, recent food consumption, and any underlying medical conditions or medications will be taken.
  • Physical examination: conducted to assess the patient's overall health and to look for signs of dehydration, abdominal tenderness, or other relevant physical findings.
  • Stool analysis: depending on the suspected cause of diarrhoea, your colorectal specialist may request a stool sample for laboratory testing. Stool analysis can help identify infectious agents, like bacteria, viruses, or parasites. 
  • Blood tests: blood tests may be ordered to check for signs of infection, inflammation, or other abnormalities. 
  • Imaging tests: imaging tests such as abdominal x-rays, ultrasounds, or computed tomography (CT) scans may be necessary to check for medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or signs of gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Colonoscopy: a colonoscopy or endoscopy may be recommended in cases of chronic or severe diarrhoea. These procedures involve the insertion of a thin, flexible tube (with a camera and light attached at one end) into the gastrointestinal tract to inspect the lining of the intestines and collect tissue samples for a biopsy if necessary.

What are the treatment options for Diarrhoea in Singapore?

Once a diagnosis is made, treatment will be tailored to the underlying cause. Treatment may include dietary changes, hydration, medications to manage symptoms or treat infections, or other appropriate interventions.

Frequently asked questions

The duration of diarrhoea varies depending on the underlying cause. Acute diarrhoea often resolves within a few days, while chronic diarrhoea can persist for weeks or longer.
It depends on the underlying cause. Some infections, such as certain types of viral and bacterial infections, can be contagious and spread from person to person.
Signs of dehydration include increased thirst, dry mouth, dark yellow urine, dizziness, weakness, and reduced urine output. Dehydration is a concern, especially if diarrhoea is severe or prolonged.
You should consider seeking medical attention if you experience severe diarrhoea, bloody stools, high fever, signs of dehydration, diarrhoea lasting more than a few days, or if you have underlying health conditions.
Whatsapp Enquiry
How can we help you?
We offer a comprehensive range of consultations for all General Surgical and Abdominal issues.

Let us know how we can help you.
Contact Us

Copyright © Alpine Surgical Practice | Terms & Conditions