What Causes Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools and is often accompanied by abdominal cramps, bloating, and an urgent need to have a bowel movement. Several factors can cause diarrhea, including:

  1. Infections: Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections are common causes of diarrhea. Contaminated food, water, or inadequate hygiene can lead to infections that affect the digestive system, such as gastroenteritis.
  2. Food intolerance: Some individuals may experience diarrhea as a result of food intolerances or sensitivities. Lactose intolerance, where the body has difficulty digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products, is a common example.
  3. Medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics, antacids containing magnesium, some cancer drugs, and certain blood pressure medications, can cause diarrhea as a side effect.
  4. Digestive disorders: Chronic digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and malabsorption disorders can cause chronic or recurring diarrhea.
  5. Dietary factors: Consuming certain foods or beverages can trigger diarrhea in susceptible individuals. Spicy or greasy foods, excessive caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and high-fiber foods can lead to loose stools or diarrhea in some people.
  6. Stress and anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can affect the normal functioning of the digestive system, leading to diarrhea in some individuals.
  7. Traveler’s diarrhea: Traveling to regions with different sanitary conditions or consuming contaminated food and water while traveling can result in traveler’s diarrhea.
  8. Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, pancreatitis, and certain types of cancer, can cause diarrhea as a symptom.
  9. Intestinal surgery: Some individuals may experience diarrhea following gastrointestinal surgery or procedures.
  10. Other causes: Other factors that can contribute to diarrhea include radiation therapy, intestinal malformation or structural abnormalities, certain hormonal disorders, and certain types of food poisoning.

It’s important to note that while most cases of acute diarrhea resolve on their own within a few days, persistent or severe diarrhea, especially when accompanied by other concerning symptoms like dehydration or blood in the stool, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. They can help determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment or management strategies.