Why is Diarrhea Dangerous?

Oct 01, 2016



Why is Diarrhea Dangerous Screenshot

This infographic walks you through the biology behind a key question: Why is diarrhea so dangerous, anyway?

The danger is in the dehydration caused by a diarrhea pathogen (in our example, ETEC).

Children are especially vulnerable to dehydration because their organs aren’t fully developed, and their tolerance threshold to the loss of fluid is much lower than an adult’s. Dehydration can become fatal within a matter of hours.

This paints a sobering picture, but the wonderful news is that kids can heal from diarrhea just as quickly as they can get sick. Alfred Ochola, our program implementer in Kenya, has seen this miracle multiple times in oral rehydration therapy corners: “They can be so sick, I can tell you,” he explains fervently, “and in just a few hours, they can change and they can be playing. It gives you a lot of human satisfaction.”

Beyond the “why” behind deadly diarrhea, we also share the “how” of prevention and treatment. Check out the full infographic.

The World Health Organization recommends oral rehydration solution and zinc as the cornerstone treatment of diarrheal disease. Learn about a new effort to increase access to both tools

Diarrhea isn't just dangerous because it can kill; our infographic on malnutrition and diarrhea delves into the long-term consequences.