DIARRHEA

CAUSES

When you have diarrhea, you know it – but you don’t always know how you got it. The most common cases are from consuming food or liquids that are contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Your digestive system recognizes these as a threat to your body, and as a defense mechanism, attempts to expel these dangerous organisms as quickly as possible.

Other fairly common causes of diarrhea include stress, medications, allergic reactions, hormonal changes during menstruation, or intolerances to various foods such as caffeine, dairy, artificial sweeteners, or certain types of sugars.

If diarrhea is a common problem, or becomes chronic no matter what you eat, it could be the symptom of a more serious illness such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, colon cancer, colitis, hepatitis, gallbladder problems, or other issues that require a doctor’s attention.


SYMPTOMS

Everybody gets diarrhea once in a while, and the symptoms are hard to ignore. As your body is attempting to quickly cleanse the digestive system, you’ll feel a sudden urgency to have a bowel movement, and they will come much more frequently than normal. Your stools will be loose and watery, and you may feel abdominal cramps and discomfort.

During a bout with diarrhea you may feel surprisingly thirsty because your body gets dehydrated quickly as it tries to purge your system. Be sure to drink some extra water, and stay away from sugary drinks or soda because they can make the diarrhea worse.

Most cases of diarrhea caused by contaminated food are over in a day or two. But when the diarrhea persists, it is considered chronic and might be caused by a serious health concern, so see your doctor.

nausea

CAUSES

After you’ve eaten and it feels like your food wants to come back up, that’s nausea. And there are lots of causes. Most likely, you ate something that “didn’t agree with you.” It might have been too spicy, too sugary, too fatty, or too rich. You might have consumed something that your body is allergic to, such as dairy, nuts, or certain sugars. Or your last meal might have been contaminated with bacteria, germs, or parasites that your body recognizes as a threat and is trying to get rid of before they go further through your system.

Other causes are less common such as motion, migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, appendicitis, heart problems, concussion, and other serious conditions that require medical attention. Nausea could be a side effect of medications or chemotherapy, or might simply be the first indicator that you’re pregnant.


SYMPTOMS

When your stomach feels like it’s doing cartwheels, there’s no mistaking the fact that you’re nauseated. Nausea makes you feel like you’re on the verge of throwing up – usually after a meal, but sometimes even if you haven’t eaten anything for hours. You feel “sick to your stomach,” and the discomfort tends to originate in the abdomen, but can also lead to uncomfortable feelings in the chest, upper abdomen, or back of your throat.

Nausea is often accompanied by lack of energy, dizziness, headaches, lightheadedness, diarrhea, sensitivity to light, and the general feeling that you need to sit still, lay down, and avoid motion. Sometimes when you’re nauseated, even the sight or smell of food can make you feel queasy.

gas

CAUSES

Gas is no picnic, but that might have been what caused it. Usually, gas is caused when your body is struggling to digest something you ate. Foods that don’t get digested properly have to stay in your stomach and intestines longer than normal, and they begin to ferment – creating methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen.

If you’re not sure what food it was that is giving you gas, the usual culprit is sugar. Your body may be struggling to digest certain types of sugars that may not be from what you normally consider “sugary foods.” The most difficult sugars to digest are found in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, and whole grains. Surprisingly, it’s often the healthy foods that cause the most gas. It might also be that your body struggles to digest dairy products.


SYMPTOMS

Gas symptoms will pass. Unfortunately, that can be really embarrassing. Passing of gas through frequent flatulence or belching can prevent you from enjoying your favorite foods, and keep you from having fun at social gatherings.

But gas can also be quite painful. Sometimes the pain is so severe that people think they have a more serious problem. As undigested food ferments, gas bubbles form and move through your digestive system where they can cause sharp, jabbing pains and cramps along the way. Sometimes it makes you feel like your digestive system is “tied up in knots” and you have to loosen your belt. Bloating, swelling, and tightness are common symptoms as well. You may even find yourself having to lie down and get horizontal to help relieve the discomfort.

indigestion

CAUSES

It seemed like a good idea at the time. You enjoyed every bite of your favorite dish, then it came back to haunt you. Your body does its best to digest what you eat, but when it can’t get the job done you get indigestion.

Your case of indigestion could simply be a matter of eating a little too much or a little too fast. Or it could be that your food was too spicy, fatty, or greasy. Sometimes other external sources of stress and anxiety can tighten up your abdominal muscles and interfere with normal digestion. Too much caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and even smoking can contribute to indigestion. Non-food causes include certain antibiotics, pain relievers, and iron supplements.

Sometimes serious digestive conditions requiring medical attention are the cause of recurring indigestion; such as gallstones, peptic ulcers, intestinal blockage, or even stomach cancer.


SYMPTOMS

Maybe you ate too much or too fast, and now you’re paying the price. Or maybe your body hasn’t adjusted to a new medication. Whatever the cause, your body’s normal digestion process has been thrown for a loop, and you could still be feeling stuffed long after you finished eating.

The area of most discomfort tends to be in the upper abdominal area, above or around the navel. Belching is a common problem as your body tries to relieve pressure. You may feel nauseous and queasy, like you’re going to throw up. You might feel bloated, or find yourself loosening your belt because your clothes start feeling tight from abdominal distention, which is swelling around the waistline.

heartburn

CAUSES

You had a great meal, and now you’re churning and burning. But heartburn doesn’t happen in your heart; it’s in your esophagus.

When you eat, your food travels down a tube called the esophagus before it gets to your stomach. A band of muscles close off the base of the esophagus so food doesn’t come back up. But if those muscles weaken or relax at the wrong time, stomach acid comes back up into the esophagus, irritating its lining and causing heartburn.

Normally, heartburn comes from the types of foods and beverages you consume. Spicy foods are the worst, along with coffee, carbonated drinks, chocolate, onions, garlic, alcohol and acidic foods like tomatoes. It could also be a matter of eating too much or too quickly.

It’s best not to lie down after you eat because it increases the amount of stomach acid around the base of the esophagus.


SYMPTOMS

The word “heartburn” is a good way to describe what it feels like. The base of the esophagus is in your chest, and when stomach acid backs up, it feels like your heart is on fire. The burning sensation might last only a few minutes or several hours.

It is often accompanied by a hot, sour, acidic, or salty taste at the back of your throat as stomach acid starts to come back up. You may have difficulty swallowing, and it may feel like food is “sticking” in the middle of your chest or throat. Prolonged heartburn can cause coughing, sore throat, or hoarseness.

One word of caution, it’s possible to mistake heartburn for what is actually a heart-related problem. If you also experience shortness of breath, chest pains radiating to the arms, neck, or jaw, dizziness or cold sweat, the sufferer should be evaluated by a health care professional as soon as possible.

upset stomach

CAUSES

Your mouth can be your stomach’s worst enemy. Once in a while your stomach decides to pay you back for something you let your mouth get away with. Maybe you ate too fast, or stuffed yourself with one too many helpings of your favorite lasagna.

Spicy food could be what is upsetting your stomach, or it could be too much caffeine, alcohol, or that fizzy soda you drank. It might even be from certain antibiotics, pain relievers, and iron supplements.

Sometimes when you get upset, your stomach does, too. The physical results of emotional anxiety can be most noticeable in your stomach and abdomen.

If your stomach is constantly upset, it’s best to seek medical advice from your doctor. It could be caused by intestinal blockage, gallstones, peptic ulcers, pancreas inflammation, or stomach cancer.


SYMPTOMS

An upset stomach feels like your stomach is on strike. Normally you don’t even think about your stomach because it functions just fine, but suddenly it feels completely out of place and out of whack.

An upset stomach means your stomach has become agitated, disturbed, and is out of its normal rhythm. You might feel pressure in the upper abdominal area, above and around your navel. You might find yourself having to belch to relieve pressure in your stomach. You probably feel nauseous, squeamish, and close to vomiting. And even though it might be hours since you last ate, surprisingly you have no appetite.

When your stomach is upset, you’re likely to feel gassy or bloated, and uncomfortable in tight clothes.

Travellers' Diarrhea

CAUSES

When you have travelers’ diarrhea, you know it – but you don’t always know how you got it. The most common cases are from consuming food or liquids that are contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Your digestive system recognizes these as a threat to your body, and as a defense mechanism, attempts to expel these dangerous organisms as quickly as possible.

Risk of travelers’ diarrhea increases when you visit a place where the climate, social conditions, or sanitary standards and practices are different from yours at home (source: Mayo Clinic). It can occur when traveling anywhere, but the highest-risk destinations are in most of Asia as well as the Middle East, Africa, and Central and South America.


SYMPTOMS

Travelers’ diarrhea is the most common travel-related illness, and the symptoms are hard to
ignore (source: CDC). As your body is attempting to quickly cleanse the digestive system, you’ll feel a sudden urge to have a bowel movement, and they will come much more frequently than normal. Your stools will be loose and watery, and you may feel abdominal cramps and
discomfort.During a bout with travelers’ diarrhea you may feel surprisingly thirsty because your body gets dehydrated quickly as it tries to purge your system. Be sure to drink some extra water, and stay away from sugary drinks or soda because they can make the diarrhea worse.Most cases of travelers’ diarrhea usually begin abruptly during your trip or shortly after returning home and are over in a day or two. However, you may have multiple episodes of
travelers’ diarrhea during the same trip.


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