Understanding the Doctors’ Perception of Managing Diarrhea

Diarrheal diseases are a major public health concern despite the delineation of the treatment and prevention plan. According to UNICEF, 8% of all deaths among children under the age of 5 years are due to diarrhea. Globally, nearly 1.7 billion cases of childhood diarrhea are reported every year. The problem of diarrheal diseases is more pronounced in the urban slum areas owing to the unhealthy and unhygienic environment. Most of the diarrheal cases are self-limiting. It is necessary to understand the doctors’ perception of managing diarrhea to better manage it.

Objective: Understanding the doctors’ perception of managing diarrhea.

A total of 187 doctors participated in the survey, including 73% general practitioners, 14% others, 7% homeopathy doctors, and 6% Ayurvedic doctors.

Around 55% of doctors frequently come across patients with diarrhea.

Around 43% of doctors responded that severe diarrhea is encountered in children.

Most of the doctors, 77% prefer to diagnose diarrhea based on symptoms only.

Around 42% of doctors often come across patients with antibiotic-induced diarrhea.

Most of the doctors, 38% commonly recommend ORS for treatment.

Around 49% of the doctors responded that they rarely encounter side-effects related to ORS or antidiarrheals.

Around 49% of the doctors responded that the common cause of diarrhea was the consumption of foods that upset the digestive system.

Around 45% of doctors responded that often the patient’s diarrhea was associated with insufficient hygiene.

Electrolyte imbalance was the most common complication of diarrhea reported by 62% of doctors.

Lack of access to clean water or proper nutrition was reported to the common barrier to prevent diarrhea by 38% of doctors.

Our survey revealed that doctors frequently encounter patients with diarrhea and severe diarrhea is mostly experienced in children. The primary cause of diarrhea was consumption of foods that upset the digestive system. Maintaining hygiene and improving access to nutritionally dense foods could reduce the incidence of diarrhea. A majority of doctors responded that electrolyte imbalance and dehydration in common are the significant complications. Easy availability of rehydration salts will undoubtedly help in efficiently managing them. Extensive use of antibiotics is also one of the major causes of diarrhea. Physicians should judiciously prescribe antibiotics. Studies have shown that prescribing multivitamins and probiotics, along with antibiotics can help prevent the imbalance in gut microflora. Social initiatives to educate masses for typically practicing hygiene and symptoms of diarrhea are key in preventing this self-limiting condition. Effective training of primary health centers can play a vital role in effectively managing diarrhea.

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