What Causes Diarrhea?
Sometimes diarrhea does not go away of its own accord. Chronic diarrhea has many possible causes, including some medications or intolerance to certain foods. Persistent and repeated bouts of diarrhea can also be a sign of a serious underlying condition.
1. Diarrhea caused by medication
Sometimes good medicines lead to bad diarrhea. “As more patients are treated with antibiotics, we see more cases of Clostridium difficile colitis,” Rapisarda tells WebMD. While going after bad bacteria, antibiotics can also kill good bacteria that protect your intestines. “Ironically, antibiotics to treat one type of infection can make a patient more vulnerable to this other type of infection.”
Blood pressure medications, cancer drugs, and antacids can also trigger diarrhea. If you take any of these medications and experience frequent or ongoing diarrhea, let your doctor know.
2. Diarrhea caused by food intolerance
Diarrhea may be the result if your body has trouble digesting certain foods. Diarrhea-inducing fare includes dairy products and artificial sweeteners. The undigested food causes nausea, diarrhea, cramping, and gas, normally within 30 minutes to two hours of entering your system.
Lactose intolerance affects 30 million to 50 million Americans, most of whom are black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian American. The impact of lactose intolerance varies. Some people can drink small amounts of milk in tea or coffee without stomach upset. Some can eat cheese or yogurt, which have less lactose than milk. Note the type and amount of dairy products you eat and their effect. You can also talk to your doctor about dietary supplements that may improve your digestion of dairy products.
3. Diarrhea caused by chronic conditions
Diarrhea that doesn’t go away might be letting you know you have an untreated medical condition. If diarrhea lasts longer than three days, ask your doctor of you might have any of these diarrhea-causing conditions:
- Irritable bowel syndrome -- A common disorder that causes cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and general abdominal discomfort. Often, simple lifestyle and diet changes can bring irritable bowel syndrome under control.
- Inflammatory bowel disease -- The digestive tract becomes inflamed and damaged, reducing its ability to absorb and deliver nutrients to the body. Your doctor can help you reduce the symptoms and damage of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Celiac disease -- When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune systems attack the lining of their intestines. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Unless the condition is managed, the intestines can lose their ability to absorb nutrients over time.
- Addison’s Disease
- Chronic pancreatitis