Constant Diarrhea: Understanding the Causes and Treatments

Diarrhea is a condition that everyone experiences once in a while, but what about those of us who struggle with constant diarrhea? A typical attack of diarrhea usually causes about three or more instances of loose or watery stool in the same day. Constant diarrhea, often referred to as chronic diarrhea, can be defined as having at least one loose stool per day that lasts for a period of at least two weeks. We are going to take a look at some of the most common causes linked to chronic diarrhea as well as treatments that you may find effective.

In underdeveloped countries, common causes behind diarrhea can be anything from malnutrition to intestinal parasites, but in developed countries, the most common causes can be narrowed down considerably. So, let’s assume you are from a first world country. The first cause we are going to discuss is one that you may have even thought about yourself: irritable bowel syndrome or IBS for short. IBS is often accompanied by symptoms of abdominal cramps or pain, bloating, and general discomfort. Another common symptom of IBS is an alternation between constipation and diarrhea.

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for IBS—only ways to treat the symptoms. To treat IBS, many doctors ask the patient to reevaluate their diet. As lactose intolerance often produces similar symptoms, the patient may be asked to maintain a dairy free diet to see if the symptoms improve. It may also be recommended that the patient take fiber supplements or add high-fiber foods to their diet on a daily basis. Limiting sugary foods and drinks may provide help in stabilizing bowel movements.

Infections are another common cause behind constant diarrhea. An infection can be seriously ruled in as a possible cause particularly when a person has recently traveled out of the country (especially to a developing area) or who suffers from an immunodeficiency disease, such as AIDS/HIV. If you have been taking antibiotics, it is quite possible that the antibiotic or the infection it is treating is the culprit behind the diarrhea. People who drink raw milk (as in straight-from-the-cow) are also prime candidates for chronic diarrhea, as raw milk is obviously unpasteurized and can contain bacteria from transportation, storage, or even feces from the animal! (This also includes foods created from unpasteurized milk, such as cheese.)

The treatment for infection-related diarrhea is dependent upon the situation itself. If the cause is due to an infection or antibiotic, the symptoms of diarrhea should go away after the infection has been fully treated and antibiotics are no longer necessary. If unpasteurized milk is determined to be the cause, one may choose to switch to consuming only pasteurized dairy products. Alternatively, one could try to exercise more caution and sanitation when obtaining the milk; however this is not a guaranteed measure as it can be quite difficult to ensure that the  harmful bacteria is absent from the animal during milking.

Medications, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements can also cause a constant state of diarrhea. Sometimes a certain type of medication may be known to cause diarrhea as a side effect, in which case the box or pamphlet that accompanies the medication should warn such. If you believe that one of your prescription medications may be the cause of your diarrhea, discuss with your doctor if this is a possibility, and if so, whether there is an alternative treatment you can switch to.

If you suspect that an herbal or other type of supplement may be causing your diarrhea, try abstaining from it for a while. Within a week, you should notice an improvement in your bowel movements. If your condition does not improve, it is likely that something else is causing the diarrhea.

Constant diarrhea not only disrupts your life by being an inconvenience you have to work your activities around, but it can also affect your overall health. Many vital nutrients are flushed out of the body due to diarrhea before they are given a chance to be absorbed. Dehydration is another serious issue that one must look out for when battling any type of diarrhea, but the risks are especially severe for those who deal with diarrhea on a constant basis. If you have been suffering from what you believe to be a case of constant diarrhea, please visit your doctor to obtain a formal diagnosis and for treatment recommendations that may best suit your situation.


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