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Chronic Diarrhoea - What Causes It?

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MD-Medicine, DNB-Gatroenterology
Gastroenterologist, Jalandhar  •  12 years experience
Chronic Diarrhoea - What Causes It?

Chronic Diarrhoea is a condition that results in watery or loose stools. While most diarrhoea subsides within a few days time, the chronic ones persist up to a couple of weeks. Some common symptoms that can help to identify chronic diarrhoea include bloating, nausea, fever, blood in the stool, abdominal cramps etc. Here is a brief look at the possible causes of chronic diarrhoea:

What are the possible causes of chronic diarrhoea?
Parasites and bacteria: Parasites and bacteria are often transmitted from contaminated food and water. Certain parasites such as the cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia can lead to chronic diarrhoea. Some common bacteria include Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Shigella, and Salmonella. In the more developed countries, diarrhoea is often referred to as the traveller’s syndrome. Diarrhoea can also result from a course of antibiotics due to an infection from Clostridium difficile.

  1. Viruses: Some of the common viruses that can lead to chronic diarrhoea include viral hepatitis, Norwalk virus, and cytomegalovirus. A certain virus known as the Rotavirus can lead to an acute childhood diarrhoea.
  2. Medication: Certain medication is known to be the culprit when it comes to causing diarrhoea. Antibiotics, for instance, tend to equally destroy both the good and the bad bacteria thereby disturbing the bacterial balance of the intestine leading to chronic diarrhoea. Certain other drugs related to cancer, antacids containing magnesium etc can also lead to chronic diarrhoea.
  3. Artificial Sweeteners: Certain artificial sweeteners are known to be causing chronic diarrhoea. Compounds such as Mannitol, Fructose etc found in certain sugar-free products or chewing gum can lead to chronic diarrhoea in otherwise healthy people. It is, therefore, advised not to consume too many artificial sweeteners in excess at one go.
  4. Intolerance of lactose: Lactose is a type of sugar that is mostly found in dairy products. People who find it difficult digesting this compound often tend to suffer from diarrhoea when they consume dairy products. Our body produces an enzyme to digest lactose. However, this enzyme tends to rapidly feds away from the body with age. Lesser the amount of this enzyme, greater is the chance of lactose intolerance leading to an increased risk of chronic diarrhoea.
  5. Surgery: There are surgeries that can begin the onset of chronic diarrhoea. Certain procedures such as the gallbladder removal surgery and abdominal surgery run a high risk of chronic diarrhoea.
  6. Fructose: For people who find it hard to digest fructose can suffer from chronic diarrhoea. Fructose is a naturally occurring sweetener found in honey, fruits etc and is often added to beverages to enhance the taste.
  7. Certain digestive disorders: Certain other situations such as celiac disease, microscopic colitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis irritable bowel syndrome etc can lead to chronic diarrhoea.  In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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