What Causes Diarrhea

Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools and is a relatively common condition that most individuals experience now and again in their lives. Often accompanied by discomfort and pain, many factors can result in diarrhea, from medication side effects to consuming trigger foods.

Though it is not a major health concern in developed and first world countries, it can be a cause of death in third world countries, especially among infants and children due to malnutrition and dehydration. Pinpointing the cause can both treat the condition and prevent complications from arising.

While there are prescription-strength medications available, most people can also find relief with over-the-counter medications. However, it is important to avoid triggers and make lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications to prevent chronic diarrhea.

Diarrhea Causes

Though many things can cause diarrhea, one common cause is the stomach virus or more commonly known as the stomach flu. The stomach flu is temporary and typically only persists for a few days.

Some other common causes include bacterial infections, other conditions such as IBD (colitis or Crohn’s), and consuming trigger foods. In most cases, one or two days of symptoms are normal and not a cause for concern that passes on its own without treatment. However, if you experience the condition repeatedly, it may be chronic, so consulting a doctor for a long-term treatment is essential.

Treating Diarrhea

Treatment is always case-specific as it depends on the cause. For instance, if there is an underlying condition that results in diarrhea as well as other symptoms, said condition must be addressed with proper treatment.

When it is not caused by a serious underlying disease, it can usually be relieved with over-the-counter antidiarrheals such as Imodium and Pepto-Bismol.

When you have diarrhea, it is also vital to drink plenty of liquids, water specifically, as the condition can lead to dehydration. If you notice that you experience diarrhea only after consuming certain foods, it is important to eliminate those trigger foods, but it is also a sound idea to limit your intake of high-fat and dairy products if you are prone to diarrhea.

If making dietary changes and over-the-counter treatment options do not prove to be effective, discussing your other treatment options with your doctor is essential as there are more potent medications that can be prescribed to be used short-term to relieve diarrhea and symptoms associated with it.

In most cases, the condition is typically nothing to worry about and caused by the consumption of certain foods, medications, or stress. It is manageable short-term as long as it is not chronic and caused by a more serious, underlying disease that needs to be addressed separately.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© belchonock

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