Cholera and Diarrhea

Cholera and Diarrhea

How Is Cholera Related to Diarrhea?

Cholera is an infection that occurs in the small intestines. It is caused by a bacterium known as Vibrio cholerae. The disease is acquired through the intake of contaminated food or water. When an infected person defecates and then clean water comes into contact with the feces, the water becomes contaminated. Use of such water can get you infected.

Diarrhea, on the other hand, is a condition in which a person passes very watery stool. It is one of the symptoms of cholera. People who are diseased with cholera experience diarrhea that can range from mild to extremely severe and violent. The stool on most occasions will be white in color (it will look like rice water).

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What Are the Effects of Diarrhea on the Body?

Diarrhea can be extremely adverse to the body. It not only makes its victims uncomfortable, but can also render even the efficient carrying out of tasks impossible. This is because victims get an urge to relieve themselves continually and frequently.

The stool they pass is usually in a liquid state. Diarrhea results in the general dehydration of the body, and this can have very serious effects on the functioning of the body. Severe dehydration due to diarrhea has been known to cause death among cholera patients in a matter of hours if they are not treated promptly.

Since diarrhea causes dehydration, the effects also involve those of dehydration. Some of the effects are the following:

  • Loss of skin elasticity. Due to the reduced moisture content of the body, the skin begins to toughen up and shows poor turgor--it tents up when you pinch and release it, instead of quickly returning to normal--as the cells do not have enough water. 
  • Sunken eyes
  • Drying of the mucous membranes within the mouth, throat, and nose
  • A decline in blood pressure
  • Stomachache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Thirst
  • Increased heart rate (This happens mostly when the blood pressure drops.)

Children may also exhibit the following symptoms in addition to the above: 

  • Absence of tears when they cry
  • Fever
  • Not wetting their diapers for three or more hours

Who Gets Affected by Diarrhea?

Diarrhea affects all cholera patients whether they are men or women. However, children and the elderly are the ones who get most affected. This is because they have weaker bodies. Infants are the victims who are most likely to die from the condition.

There are many people who are exposed to high risks of cholera infection. People living in crowded places such as slums, or those in war-ravaged countries or disaster-stricken places, will on most occasions exercise very minimal levels of sanitation. Water supply is usually scarce, and this automatically makes it very difficult to achieve certain levels of hygiene.

Poor means of waste disposal and leaks in sewage systems also expose environmental resources such as clean water to contaminated feces. They end up contaminating the water, and this, in turn, makes it unfit and dangerous for domestic use.

How Do You Manage or Treat Diarrhea if You Have Cholera?

When people with cholera experience diarrhea, the main way to prevent it from causing much harm to the body is for the cholera victims to stay hydrated. This helps to keep the water level in the body high enough, and therefore to prevent severe dehydration. People who have mild diarrhea can do this by drinking a lot of water.

For those who have severe diarrhea, more than just the fluids will have to be replaced. Sodium and potassium ions will be lost in great quantities due to the diarrhea and will therefore have to be restored. This can be done by taking Oral Replacement Therapy (ORT), which can be purchased at a pharmacy or prescribed by a doctor.

For severe cases, the victims may have to get hydrated through intravenous injections. Dehydration due to diarrhea mostly affects children and the elderly. So if any of them experience it, they should be taken to see a doctor immediately, as it can cause their death very quickly.

Aside from cholera, diarrhea can also be caused by food allergies and diseases of the intestines. When a person who is allergic to a certain kind of food eats it, the body will try to get rid of the food as fast as possible, and this can take place in form of diarrhea. Meanwhile, the most common intestinal disease that can cause diarrhea is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Other than diarrhea, cholera patients may also experience other symptoms such as vomiting.

Ways of Preventing Cholera in Order to Avoid Diarrhea

Cholera is one of the causes of diarrhea. This therefore means that if you can keep yourself from getting cholera, you also reduce the risk of getting diarrhea. Cholera is caused by poor sanitation and improper hygiene practices (see causes of diarrhea). This therefore means that if you are able to keep yourself from getting cholera, then you also reduce the risk of getting diarrhea. Cholera can be avoided by observing the following:

  1. Make sure that you drink boiled water or water that has been filtered and treated.
  2. Do not eat raw fruit or vegetables. If you have to eat uncooked fruit, make sure you wash it with clean water.
  3. When eating seafood or meat, eat it while it is still hot.  
  4. Avoid bottled water whose seal is broken.
  5. Do not use tap water or municipal water to brush your teeth or to make ice. This is because the water may be contaminated.
  6. Keep away from food sold by street vendors.
  7. Consume only dairy products that are pasteurized.
  8. Wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet.
  9. Get vaccinated against cholera in case of an outbreak.

Following the above guidelines will make you safer and lower your chances of getting a cholera infection. Parents should also be keen and keep a vigilant eye on their children to ensure that they do not expose themselves to the factors that can cause the disease. They should also teach their kids to practice good hygiene assiduously and meticulously.

Home Remedies for Cholera Patients with Diarrhea

There are several home products that can be used to help ease your discomfort due to diarrhea. Among these are fruit juices, soup, peppermint, ginger, chamomile tea, fenugreek seeds, apple cider vinegar, water, white rice, and carrot juice. Try them for your diarrhea.

The Bottom Line

Cholera and diarrhea are two health problems that go hand in hand. Although it should be noted that diarrhea is not necessarily caused by cholera, it is the main symptom of a cholera infection.

Diarrhea is the number one cause of death among cholera patients. Anyone infected with cholera must visit a hospital as soon as the symptoms start to show. This will help them get early treatment and therefore avoid the further deterioration of their condition. 

If diarrhea persists for more than three weeks even after treatment, it may be time for you to go for other tests, as you may be experiencing chronic diarrhea. This means that the diarrhea is probably caused by other factors and not cholera.