National Diarrhea Day

A cheerful person holding a glass of water, wearing a medical mask, in a clean and hygienic environment. They have a friendly smile and are surrounded by hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes..
National diarrhea day illustration

We all know that a day centered around diarrhea may sound a bit boggy or even runny. Brace yourselves, because we're about to dive into an interesting ocean of history behind it. Turn off the groan engine, it's not as bad as it might sound!

When is Diarrhea Day?

It's national diarrhea day on the 13th April.

The Origins of National Diarrhea Day

Though the topic may give you butterflies in the stomach, and understandably so, National Diarrhea Day splashed onto the scene quite remarkably. Our data reveals more people than you'd think taking to the internet to discuss this day on April 13, 2016, making it the most momentous moment in its virtual existence.

Why a National Day?

Though it might seem like the loosest subject to create a national day around, it's safe to say that this day brings a semblance of recognition to a condition that almost everyone has experienced but rarely talks about openly. Globally, diarrhea is a common cause of mortality among children under five, and this day can act as a critical awareness drive to highlight the importance of hygiene and access to clean drinking water.

Making the Most of National Diarrhea Day

While it's probably not the best excuse to get out of a date, commemorating National Diarrhea Day can bring a few laughs and insightful conversations. You could even spend the day educating yourself and others about the importance of maintaining good health practices to prevent such conditions.

Funny Takes on National Diarrhea Day

It's no surprise that folks on the internet have managed to scrape up some humor out of the subject. There have been humorous tweets, memes, and even some creative hashtags trending. Trust the internet to flush out a good laugh even in the most uncomfortable subjects.

History behind the term 'Diarrhea'

1500 BCE

Ancient Curse

The term 'diarrhea' can be traced back to ancient times. In ancient Babylonia, around 1500 BCE, an ancient curse was written on a tablet that referred to a condition called 'diarrhea' in which a person experiences frequent loose bowel movements.

3000 BCE

Early Origins

The term 'diarrhea' can be traced back to ancient times, specifically around 3000 BCE. In early civilizations, such as the Mesopotamians and ancient Egyptians, people recognized the symptoms and effects of this condition, even if they didn't have a specific term for it. Ancient medical texts have documented cases of excessive bowel movements, loose stools, and abdominal pain, which all align with the symptoms of diarrhea. While the term 'diarrhea' itself didn't exist during this period, the recognition of the condition demonstrates an early understanding of gastrointestinal health.

400 BCE

Ancient Understanding

The earliest records of understanding and documenting symptoms of diarrhea date back to around 400 BCE in ancient Greece and Rome. In these times, diarrhea was referred to as 'diarrhoia' by the Greeks and 'diarrhoea' by the Romans.

13th century

The Greek origin

The term 'diarrhea' has its roots in the Greek language. It is derived from the Greek word 'diarrhoia,' which means 'a flowing through.' In ancient Greece, the term was used to describe the excessive and frequent passing of watery stool.

1500 B.C.

Ancient Treatments

During this time, the term 'diarrhea' did not exist. However, the ailment itself was recognized and recorded in ancient civilizations like Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China. Various treatments were used to combat diarrhea, including herbal remedies and diets consisting of rice and barley.

14th century

Origins of the Term

The term 'diarrhea' originated in the 14th century from the Greek word 'diarrhoia', which means 'a flowing through'. It was used to describe the excessive and frequent passage of loose or watery stools. In ancient times, the condition was often associated with the imbalance of bodily humors, particularly an excess of 'black bile'.

4000 BCE

Ancient Origins

The term 'diarrhea' has its origins in the ancient world. The word itself is derived from the Greek word 'diarrhoia', meaning 'to flow through'. Ancient civilizations recognized the symptoms of the condition and described it as a frequent discharge of watery and loose stools.

400 BC

Early Records of Diarrhea

The term 'diarrhea' can be traced back to early records of ancient Greek medicine. Hippocrates, often known as the father of medicine, described a condition called 'diarroia,' meaning 'a flowing through.' This early term was used to describe the frequent passage of watery stools, a characteristic symptom of diarrhea.

400 BCE

Early Origins

The term 'diarrhea' finds its origins in ancient Greece, where the word 'diarrhoia' was used to describe the frequent and watery bowel movements. Hippocrates, often referred to as the 'Father of Medicine,' was one of the first to document the symptoms and relevance of this condition.

14th century

Emergence of the term 'diarrhea'

In the 14th century, the term 'diarrhea' emerged, deriving from the Greek word 'diarrhoia', which translates to 'to flow through'. The term was used to describe the condition characterized by frequent, loose, and watery bowel movements.

2735 BC

Early Evidence

The earliest known evidence of the term 'diarrhea' dates back to ancient Mesopotamia in 2735 BC. Ancient Sumerian writings describe a condition called 'umm sidamtu', which can be translated to 'loose bowels' or 'diarrhea'. These writings were discovered in the ancient city of Eridu, providing the first known record of the term.


The Middle English Influence

During the Middle Ages, the term 'diarrhea' evolved from the Greek 'diarrhoia' and became a part of the English language. It was spelled as 'diarr(e)ah,' resembling the pronunciation of the word at the time. The understanding of the causes and treatment of this condition remained limited during this period.

17th century

Medical Understanding Evolves

During the 17th century, advancements in medical knowledge led to a better understanding of diarrhea. Doctors began to recognize it as a symptom of various underlying conditions, including infections, food poisoning, and gastrointestinal disorders. This understanding helped pave the way for improved treatments and interventions in subsequent centuries.

5th Century BCE

Greek Influence

The term 'diarrhea' as we know it today finds its roots in ancient Greece. Greek physicians, including Hippocrates, made significant contributions to medicine and coined several medical terms. In the 5th century BCE, the Greek word 'diarrhoia' emerged, which means 'a flowing through.' It accurately described the rapid passage of loose or watery stools and became the foundation for the modern term 'diarrhea.' This marked an important step in categorizing and understanding this specific gastrointestinal condition.

4th Century B.C.

Hippocrates and the Humoral Theory

Hippocrates, the Greek physician often referred to as the father of medicine, made important contributions to the understanding of diarrhea. He proposed the Humoral Theory, suggesting that an imbalance in bodily fluids or humors could cause disease, including diarrhea. This theory influenced medical thinking for centuries.


Scientific Exploration

During the 1500s, various physicians and scientists began to investigate the causes and effects of diarrhea. Notably, Italian physician Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente made important contributions to the understanding of the digestive system, including the study of diarrhea.

16th century

Widespread use of the term

During the 16th century, the term 'diarrhea' became more commonly used in medical literature and everyday language. As advancements in medical understanding progressed, physicians began to recognize the condition as a symptom rather than a disease itself.

5th Century BCE

Greek Medical Terminology

In the 5th century BCE, the term 'diarrhea' made its way into Greek medical terminology. Hippocrates, often considered the father of western medicine, used the term 'diarrhea' to describe excessive discharges of fluids from the body.

9th century

The Latin influence

During the Middle Ages, the term 'diarrhea' was adopted by the Latin language as 'diarrhoea.' The Latin term further spread the usage of the term across different communities and languages during this time.

5th Century BC

Greek Influence

During the 5th century BC, the term 'diarrhea' made its way into Greek medical literature. The Greek physician Hippocrates, often regarded as the father of Western medicine, used the term 'diarroia' to describe a condition characterized by frequent and watery bowel movements. This marked the introduction of the term into the broader medical community.

4th Century BCE

Hippocrates' Observations

Greek physician Hippocrates, often referred to as the 'Father of Medicine', made significant contributions to the understanding and treatment of diseases, including diarrhea. He observed that diarrhea is a result of an imbalance in the body's humors, specifically excess 'phlegm'. His observations became the basis for early medical theories surrounding the condition.

14th Century AD

Introduction of the Term 'Diarrhea'

The term 'diarrhea' as we know it today first appeared in medical literature during the 14th century. It was derived from the Greek term 'diarroia' and Latin 'diarrhoea,' which maintained the same meaning of 'a flowing through.' This new term started to gain popularity and became widely used to describe the condition characterized by loose, watery stools.


Term Coined

The term 'diarrhea' was first coined in 1825 by British physician Sir Robert Graves. He derived the term from the Greek words 'dia,' meaning through, and 'rhein,' meaning flow. This term perfectly captured the essence of the rapid and excessive flow of watery stools associated with diarrhea.

16th Century

Etymology of 'Diarrhea'

The term 'diarrhea' as we know it today can be traced back to the 16th century. It is derived from the Greek words 'dia' (through) and 'rhoia' (flow). The combination of these two words accurately describes the rapid flow of fluid through the intestines associated with the condition.

16th century

Renaissance medical advancements

In the 16th century, during the Renaissance period, medical knowledge and understanding of diseases improved. Medical texts began referring to 'diarrhea' as a specific condition, distinguishing it from other digestive disorders. This led to a clearer understanding and recognition of diarrhea as a distinct medical issue.

19th century

Scientific Investigations

In the 19th century, scientific investigations into the causes and treatments of diarrhea gained momentum. Researchers focused on studying the role of microbes and pathogens in causing infectious diarrhea. These investigations contributed to the development of sanitation practices and the discovery of antibiotics, which eventually led to a decline in deaths caused by severe diarrhea.


Shakespearean Usage

Renowned playwright William Shakespeare incorporated the term 'diarrhea' in his works, contributing to its usage and familiarity. In the play 'Hamlet' (Act II, Scene 2), Shakespeare humorously references this condition through the line, 'Sir, in my madness, I did think I saw some kind of purgative like a posset or a diarrhea.' This usage helped firmly establish the term in popular culture.

16th Century CE

Latin Adaptation

During the Renaissance period, Latin became the lingua franca of scholars, shaping medical terminology across Europe. In the 16th century CE, the Latin term 'diarrhoea' replaced the Greek variant. Latinization allowed for greater standardization and dissemination of medical knowledge, making it accessible to physicians and scholars from different regions. This Latin adaptation of 'diarrhea' helped solidify the term's usage throughout the expanding medical community.

16th Century CE

Latin Influence

During the Renaissance in the 16th century, medical knowledge was spreading rapidly, and Latin was the language of scholars. The term 'diarrhea' was adopted from Greek into Latin, further solidifying its usage in medical circles.

17th Century

Introduction of the Term

The term 'diarrhea' found its way into the English language in the 17th century. It was included in medical literature, such as Thomas Sydenham's 'Observationes Medicae', where he used the term to describe the condition characterized by watery and frequent bowel movements.

17th Century AD

The Influence of Galen's Humoral Theory

During the 17th century, the understanding of diarrhea was influenced by the humoral theory proposed by the ancient Greek physician Galen. According to this theory, an imbalance in bodily fluids, particularly an excess of the 'humor' known as 'choler,' was believed to cause diarrhea. This theory shaped medical practices and treatments for diarrhea over several centuries.

16th Century

First Use of 'Diarrhea'

The term 'diarrhea' originated from the Greek word 'diarrhoia,' meaning 'to flow through.' This term was first used in medical texts during the 16th century to describe the condition characterized by frequent loose bowel movements. It quickly gained popularity and became the standard term for the condition.

19th century

Recognition of potential causes

In the 19th century, medical professionals started to gain a deeper understanding of the various causes of diarrhea. They recognized that it could be triggered by infections, dietary issues, and certain diseases. This knowledge allowed for more targeted treatments and interventions.

18th Century

Advancements in Medical Understanding

During the 18th century, further advancements in medical understanding of 'diarrhea' took place. Physicians like Thomas Sydenham and Giovanni Battista Morgagni made significant contributions to the knowledge of gastrointestinal diseases, including diarrhea. Their studies helped differentiate various causes and types of diarrhea, gradually improving medical treatments and interventions.

19th Century

Advancements in Understanding

As medical knowledge expanded, researchers and physicians began to uncover the causes and treatments for diarrhea. In the 19th century, scientists identified various pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, as common culprits of infectious diarrhea. Additionally, advancements in hygiene practices, sanitation, and clean water supply improved the management of the condition.

19th Century AD

Advancements in Understanding Diarrhea

Advancements in the field of medicine during the 19th century led to a better understanding of the causes and treatments of diarrhea. Scientists discovered that various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites, could contribute to the development of diarrhea. This knowledge paved the way for improved hygiene practices, sanitation, and the development of effective anti-diarrheal medications.


Scientific Classification

In 1824, the start of a more scientific approach to medicine led to the classification of diseases, including diarrhea. This categorization helped distinguish it from other gastrointestinal disorders, providing a better understanding of its causes and treatments.

19th Century CE

Modern Medical Usage

In the 19th century CE, advancements in medical understanding and the establishment of professional medical societies led to further refinement and acceptance of the term 'diarrhea.' With the development of various diagnostic tools and improved sanitary practices, physicians gained a deeper understanding of the causes and treatments of diarrhea. This period also witnessed the rise of medical journals and publications, which helped disseminate knowledge about diarrhea and other medical conditions to a wider audience.

19th century

Scientific studies and modern medical terminology

The 19th century marked a significant turning point in the study of diseases, including diarrhea. Scientists and physicians began to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for various illnesses. As a result, 'diarrhea' became a commonly used term in medical literature and entered the modern medical lexicon.

19th Century

Advancements in Understanding

Throughout the 19th century, significant advancements in medical understanding of diarrhea were made. Researchers began to identify various causes of diarrhea, including bacterial and parasitic infections. This knowledge led to the development of more targeted treatments and preventive measures, improving overall management of the condition.

20th century

Advancements in treatment

Throughout the 20th century, significant advancements were made in the treatment of diarrhea. The introduction of oral rehydration therapy, which involves replenishing lost fluids and electrolytes, revolutionized the management of diarrheal diseases and greatly reduced mortality rates.

19th Century

Advancements in Treatment

Throughout the 19th century, significant advancements were made in the treatment of diarrhea. French chemist Louis Pasteur's discoveries on germs and hygiene played a crucial role in promoting better sanitation practices to prevent diarrhea-related illnesses.

18th Century CE

Modern Usage

In the 18th century, 'diarrhea' became a commonly used term in English, directly borrowed from Latin. As medical understanding and terminology continued to evolve, the term 'diarrhea' became a recognized and accepted way to describe the condition.

20th century

Oral Rehydration Therapy Revolutionizes Treatment

The 20th century saw a groundbreaking development in the treatment of diarrhea with the introduction of oral rehydration therapy (ORT). In the 1950s and 1960s, medical researchers discovered that a simple solution of salt, sugar, and water could effectively rehydrate individuals suffering from diarrhea and prevent severe dehydration. ORT has since become a cornerstone of diarrhea management worldwide, saving millions of lives annually.

20th Century

Control and Prevention

In the 20th century, improved understanding of diarrhea's causes led to significant progress in its control and prevention. Clean water supply, proper sewage systems, vaccination campaigns, and education about hygienic practices played a vital role in reducing the prevalence and severity of diarrhea.


Continued Research and Awareness

Today, diarrhea remains a significant global health concern, particularly in developing countries with limited access to clean water and proper sanitation. Ongoing research aims to develop improved treatments, preventions, and vaccines for diarrhea-causing pathogens. Awareness campaigns focusing on hygiene practices, safe food handling, and vaccination efforts continue to educate communities and reduce the burden of diarrhea worldwide.

20th Century

Hydration and Oral Rehydration Therapy

In the 20th century, the focus on hydration and oral rehydration therapy revolutionized the management of diarrhea. Prior to this, severe cases of diarrhea often led to dehydration and even death. Through studies conducted in the 1960s, oral rehydration solutions containing salt, sugar, and water were found to be highly effective in combating dehydration caused by diarrhea. This simple yet groundbreaking intervention has saved countless lives worldwide.

20th Century

Diarrhea Research and Prevention

Throughout the 20th century, extensive research was conducted to further understand the causes, effects, and treatment of diarrhea. This led to the development of effective medications and oral rehydration therapy, which significantly reduced mortality rates, especially in developing countries where diarrhea-related deaths were prevalent. The World Health Organization (WHO) played a crucial role in promoting diarrhea prevention and control efforts globally.

21st Century

Improved Treatment

In the 21st century, medical advancements have led to improved treatments and understanding of diarrhea. While the term itself has a long history, medical professionals focus on identifying the underlying causes and appropriate treatments for the condition, aiming to improve the quality of life for those affected.

20th century

Advancements in hygiene and public health

With the progress in public health and hygiene practices during the 20th century, the understanding and prevention of diarrhea significantly improved. The term 'diarrhea' became crucial in communicating health risks, promoting proper sanitation, and advancing healthcare initiatives globally. Today, 'diarrhea' continues to play a vital role in public health campaigns and medical discussions.

21st century

Global impact and ongoing research

In the 21st century, diarrhea continues to be a significant global health concern, particularly in areas with limited access to clean water and proper sanitation. Efforts to combat the effects of diarrhea have been focused on improving hygiene, sanitation, and access to healthcare. Ongoing research aims to identify new treatments and preventative measures.

20th Century AD

Global Impact of Diarrheal Diseases

In the 20th century, the global impact of diarrheal diseases became a significant concern. Access to clean water, proper sanitation, and medical interventions played a crucial role in reducing mortality rates associated with severe diarrhea, especially in developing countries. Organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) have focused on combatting diarrheal diseases through vaccination campaigns, education, and improved healthcare infrastructure.

20th Century

Emerging Hygienic Practices

The 20th century witnessed advancements in sanitation and hygiene practices, which played a crucial role in reducing the prevalence of diarrheal diseases. Chlorination of water supplies, improved sewage systems, and effective handwashing campaigns all contributed to controlling the spread of pathogens that cause diarrhea.

Present Day

Continued Significance

Today, 'diarrhea' continues to hold a prominent place in medical terminology and everyday language. It serves as a unifying term, enabling healthcare professionals worldwide to communicate and diagnose this common digestive issue. Additionally, public health campaigns and initiatives focus on raising awareness about diarrheal diseases, particularly in developing countries where access to clean water and sanitation facilities is limited. The term 'diarrhea' represents not only a medical concept but also the ongoing efforts to combat and prevent its impact on global health.


Improved Understanding and Awareness

Throughout the 20th century, advancements in medical research, sanitation, and public health led to a significantly improved understanding of diarrhea. Awareness campaigns were launched to educate people about its prevention and management, especially in developing countries where it remains a major public health concern.

Present Day

Ongoing Management and Awareness

In the present day, diarrhea remains a common gastrointestinal condition and continues to be a topic of medical research and public health initiatives. Efforts to raise awareness about prevention, proper hygiene, and maintaining hydration levels help reduce the impact of diarrhea on individuals and communities around the world.

Present Day

Ongoing Research and Management

Currently, ongoing research aims to further understand the underlying causes, prevention strategies, and treatment options for diarrhea. Efforts are being made to develop vaccines against specific pathogens causing diarrheal diseases, improve access to oral rehydration therapy, and promote public awareness of the importance of hand hygiene and sanitary practices. This ongoing research and management continue to shape our understanding of and approach to diarrhea.

21st Century

Continued Research and Prevention Efforts

In the 21st century, research and prevention efforts have aimed to reduce the burden of diarrhea globally. Vaccination programs against specific pathogens, improvement in sanitation practices, and increased access to clean water have all contributed to reducing the incidence and severity of diarrhea. Despite progress, it remains a significant health issue, especially in developing regions, emphasizing the need for ongoing research and public health interventions.

21st Century

Ongoing Research and Global Impact

In the present day, researchers continue to investigate diarrhea and its impact on global health. Diarrhea remains a major public health concern, particularly in developing countries with limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Efforts are being made to develop improved treatments and vaccines to further reduce its burden.

21st Century

Global Public Health Initiatives

In the 21st century, international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF focused on combating diarrheal diseases worldwide. They launched campaigns to improve access to clean water, promote breastfeeding, enhance sanitation facilities, and develop life-saving interventions such as oral rehydration therapy. These initiatives aim to reduce the impact of diarrhea, particularly in developing countries.

Did you know?

Did you know that despite its seemingly funny premise, National Diarrhea Day actually brings attention to an essential health topic? It's not all toilet humor, folks!


awareness fun health education hygiene

First identified

6th May 2015

Most mentioned on

13th April 2016

Total mentions


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