7 common causes of diarrhea
Diarrhea is characterized by loose watery stools or a frequent bowel movement. Acute diarrhea lasts for a few days and does not require any treatment. However, chronic diarrhea can last longer and might require proper treatment. A condition called traveler’s diarrhea can be caused due to bacteria and parasites consumed when traveling to foreign countries. Chronic diarrhea can also be an underlying symptom of intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease. Diarrhea is not age-specific.
Diarrhea due to food poisoning is caused because of eating food contaminated with bacteria. The toxins secreted by bacteria present in the food can make the person very sick. The build-up of the bacteria could be due to food being stored in the wrong temperature or poor sanitation. Diarrhea due to food poisoning can last for up to two days and other symptoms such as abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting, and weakness can appear within two to six hours of ingesting contaminated food.
Stomach flu is caused due to viruses such as rotavirus. Diarrhea due to stomach flu and its associated symptoms, such as fever, vomiting, usually last for three to eight days. The symptoms of the disease can appear after two days of exposure to the virus.
A person with untreated celiac disease might have a hard time linking the symptoms with specific foods. The primary cause of celiac disease is the inability of the body to process gluten. Apart from month-long diarrhea, other symptoms due to celiac disease include unexplained weight loss, lack of energy, and lack of growth hormone secretion in children.
Food intolerance results in chronic diarrhea and is caused due to lack of enzymes required to digest specific foods. Lactose intolerance is one such example of food intolerance which can make diarrhea last for more than four weeks. Other symptoms of food intolerance can cause gassiness, abdominal cramps, and pain and can appear within two to twelve hours of eating the food. Diarrhea due to food intolerance results in watery stools which contains mucus.
A person can suffer from symptoms of diarrhea if they are allergic to certain foods such as nuts, peanuts, fish, eggs, milk, to name a few. However, diarrhea due to food allergy lasts as long as the said allergic foods are present in the digestive system. Other symptoms related to food allergy include vomiting and hives.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) usually causes chronic constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Diarrhea caused due to IBS can last for at least two months and is not related to any specific foods. IBS is characterized by small, frequent stools, and includes other symptoms and can also cause distention or chronic abdominal bloating.
Antibiotics and some medications used in chemotherapy can also cause diarrhea. The medications cause an alteration in the balance of bacteria. Diarrhea can last as long as the person is on the particular medication.
Most cases of diarrhea can be treated using home remedies. But some symptoms of diarrhea might require immediate medical care. It is advised to seek medical assistance if diarrhea lasts for more than 48 hours and the person experiences dehydration and bloody stools.