What is Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can be defined as unpleasant and uncomfortable frequent, runny or watery bowel movements and is usually brought on by a gastrointestinal (GI) infection that’s been caused by a bacteria, virus or parasite. Common GI infections include bacterial infections, such as those caused by E. coli, and some viral diarrhoea, such as rotavirus, which causes diarrhoea in infants. All of these infections are highly contagious. Diarrhoeal infections can be spread through dirty hands, contaminated food or water, as well as through direct contact with faecal matter.

Symptom summary

  • Dehydration.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea.
  • Weight loss.
  • Frequent runny or water bowel movements.
  • Stomach cramps.

Prevention tips

Medical Practices

Boil drinking water!
Don’t drink water if you think it’s unsafe. Just to be sure, boil it for a minute before you drink or cook with it.

Hygiene Habit

Great hand-hygiene!
GI infections and diarrhoea are highly contagious - especially if you’ve had contact with faecal matter through changing nappies or helping a sick adult to use the bathroom - make sure that you and your loved ones wash your hands regularly with Lifebuoy germ protection soap. This way, you will protect against germs.

Medical Practices

Keep hydrated!
Drinking small amounts of liquids regularly throughout the day will help to re-hydrate your body. Try drinking fresh fruit juice (without the pulp) or tea and honey, as well as fresh, clean drinking water.


Prepare your food carefully!
Contaminated food can cause diarrhoea. So wash your utensils properly, cook food to the recommended temperatures, and rinse raw fruit and vegetables thoroughly with clean water.


  • Diarrhoea shows that there’s a ‘bug’ in my system and it’s coming out of my body…

    Not exactly. Diarrhoea is one symptom of an infection - it’s often not the whole story - and your body ‘expelling’ doesn’t mean that it’s getting rid of the infection that caused the diarrhoea in the first place!

  • I should drink less water when I have diarrhoea…

    Definitely not. When you have diarrhoea, you should be drinking as much water as possible so as to prevent dehydration.  You lose fluids every time you have a bowel movement — more so if you have diarrhoea. And a lack of fluids leads to dehydration which means that your body won’t work or heal properly. Drink lots. And ensure that you boil the water first.

    For more tips from Lifebuoy on health and hygiene, read our articles

Medical source : British Health Authority


  • http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diarrhoea/Pages/Causes.aspx
  • http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gastroenteritis/Pages/Causes.aspx
  • http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/diarrhea.html
  • http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diarrhoea/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
  • http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/diarrhea-000050.htm
  • http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dehydration/Pages/Causes.aspx

View full list of infections