What are the causes of diarrhea?

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Diarrhea is a common digestive issue. It is an indication of an underlying condition that might take some time to be identified.

The condition can be categorized as sudden (acute) or chronic. For each form of diarrhea, it has its share of possible causes.

Usual causes of sudden diarrhea

When it comes to sudden or acute diarrhea, the usual causes are infections either from bacteria, virus or a parasite. There are various causes for acute diarrhea, but the common ones are stated below.

Food poisoning

This occurs after eating food that has been contaminated by bacteria. The bacteria releases toxins in the food that results to sickness. The usual causes of food poisoning include poor sanitation or incorrect storage of food.

Traveler’s diarrhea

The usual causes of food poisoning include poor sanitation or incorrect storage of food.

Traveler’s diarrhea is brought about by consumption of food or water contaminated by bacteria or parasites. Most cases settle with treatment at home for a few days. If the individual recently travelled to a tropical country and ends up with diarrhea, a doctor should be consulted.

Stomach flu

The stomach flu can be caused by various viruses including the rotavirus. In most cases, the condition can be managed at home. The elderly, young children and those who have compromised immune systems face a higher risk for dehydration and must be closely monitored for signs of serious complications.

Usual causes of the chronic form

If diarrhea lasts for weeks or months, it can be triggered by an infection or brought about by an underlying medical condition. Some of the possible causes include the following:

  • Celiac disease – if this condition is left untreated, it might be difficult to associate the symptoms to a specific food since the gut is damaged and symptoms are present all the time.
  • Food allergies – the usual signs of a class IgE-mediated food allergy starts within minutes to hours of eating a trigger food.
  • Food intolerance – this is brought about by the lack of enzymes necessary to digest a specific food. The most common type is lactose intolerance defined by inability to digest the sugar present in milk.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel disease
  • Certain medications such as antibiotics and chemotherapy

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