Causes of Diarrhea

30/12/2009

Diarrhea has been defined as “excessive frequency and looseness of bowel movements” and is one of the most common complaints heard by medical practitioners.

 

There is no single cause for a person suffering from diarrhea and these can be quite numerous, including a wide range of viruses, bacteria and parasites, medications and certain food groups such as lactose, fructose and artificial sweeteners.

 

Some people suffer from diarrhea after going through surgery in their abdominal area.

 

Another cause of diarrhea is more chronic and affects people who suffer from one digestive disorder or another, including Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease.

 

Acute Diarrhea

Acute diarrhea is caused by three main factors: infection (parasitic, bacterial or viral); acute food poisoning caused by bacteria; or a change in medication. The most common cause of acute diarrhea is without a doubt viral gastroenteritis, which is accompanied by vomiting, nausea and cramps.

 

Food poisoning occurs when toxins are produced by bacteria, sometimes before the food is eaten and other times within the intestine as the food is being absorbed.

 

Finally, when changing medications, especially antacids or magnesium laden nutritional supplements, many people have been known to suffer from diarrhea.

 

Chronic Diarrhea

The most common cause of chronic diarrhea is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which affects up to 20% of the population. This functional disease has a number of symptoms, including pain, bloating, discomfort and – as noted – diarrhea. Other causes of chronic diarrhea could be Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory disease of the intestines.

 

Managing Diarrhea through Diet

Whatever the cause of diarrhea, and whether the diarrhea is acute or chronic, there are a number of things that patients can do to reduce the unpleasant symptoms and reduce pain related with abdominal disease.

 

Increase Fluid Intake

 

One of the main problems with having diarrhea is the greater loss of body fluids. It is thus important to ensure that patients drink as many as 8 – 10 glasses of fluid – preferably water - each day to avoid dehydration.

Minus the Milk.

Some food groups are known to inflame an existing problem, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn’s Disease. As such, it is important to keep an eye out on what triggers pain and diarrhea and try to avoid these food groups in the future. The most common trigger for diarrhea in IBS sufferers are dairy products and patients should be able to find a good number of alternate options such as lactose free milk or soy beverages.

Say No to Fried Food

Fatty food can also worsen an existing problem, and diarrhea sufferers are warned to stay away from fried, greasy meals or those that are high in fat content.Fiber – High or Low?

While a diet high in natural fiber is recommended for the general population, chronic diarrhea sufferers may benefit from eating low fiber foods.

Small and Frequent

Eating a number of small meals during the day instead of 2- 3 heavy meals has been found to be easier on the stomach.

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