Diarrhea: causes and symptoms

Diarrhea (diarrhea) is a condition characterized by frequent and fluid bowel movements.
There are three main types of diarrhea: acute, chronic and recurrent.
Fortunately, most types of diarrhea are acute and short-lived.
Acute diarrhea lasts only a few days.
If it lasts longer than 4-5 days, one should consult a doctor.
Acute diarrhea is also known as non-inflammatory diarrhea.
The symptoms of mild diarrhea are: liquid and frequent bowel movements accompanied by stomach cramps and flatulence.
Chronic diarrhea is persistent and is caused by chronic intestinal or systemic diseases.
Recurrent diarrhea is characterized by individual episodes alternating with symptom-free periods.


Causes of diarrhea

Diarrhea is an unpleasant symptom that can also be dangerous to health, as it usually indicates an infection. Possible causes of diarrhea include:

  • Taking antibioticsAntibioticsanti-cancer drugs, birth control pills and acid-neutralizing drugs (antacids) with magnesium can trigger sudden diarrhea.
  • Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the small intestine of people with gluten intolerance, gluten is a protein found mainly in wheat, rye and barley.
    Celiac disease causes osmotic diarrhea, which is characterized by large water retention in the colon.
  • Crohn’s disease. An inflammatory disease that usually occurs in the last section of the small intestine (ileum) and causes intestinal swelling. Crohn’s disease can also occur in the colon and cause inflammatory diarrhea (with pus and blood in the stool).
  • Diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is an inflammation of small indentations (diverticula) that can form in the weakened muscle wall of the colon.
  • Dysentery (dysentery). Dysentery is an inflammation of the intestine accompanied by severe diarrhea and bleeding in the intestine and caused by drinking water containing a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica.
  • Food poisoning. The consumption of spoiled or contaminated food that contains harmful microorganisms or toxic substances.
  • Diarrhea of infectious origin. Diarrhea caused by bacterial or viral infections. Certain bacteria that enter the body through water or food can cause diarrhea. Typical pathogens include: Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella and Escherichia coli.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a disease in which muscle contractions occur forcefully (functional diarrhea)
  • Lactose intolerance. The inability to digest a larger amount of lactose.
  • Malabsorption. The small intestine absorbs few nutrients and causes fatty chronic diarrhea with bloating and flatulence.
  • Ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the inner wall of the colon, characterized by open wounds that arise on the mucous membrane.
  • Viral gastroenteritis or intestinal flu. An inflammation of the digestive tract caused by a virus. If it occurs after a trip abroad, it is also called traveler’s diarrhea.
    A variety of viruses can cause diarrhea, such as rotavirus, norovirus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex and the hepatitis virus.
    Infection with rotavirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhea in children; it usually lasts 3-7 days, but can cause lactose digestion problems for more than a month.
  • parasites. Parasites can enter the body through food or drinking water and settle in the digestive system. Parasites that provoke diarrhea are Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica and Cryptosporidium.
  • Colorectal tumor, causing watery diarrhea (liquid).
  • The same applies to fructose intolerance.
  • Some people experience diarrhea as a result of excessive consumption of certain sweeteners.
  • Food supplements. Many supplements containing vitamins, mineral salts, amino acid, creatine, carnitine, etc. can cause diarrhea.
  • Premenstrual syndrome. Some women suffer from diarrhea a week before menstruation; even before the labor pains, this symptom can make itself felt.
  • Some people have diarrhea as a result of stomach surgery, which can cause food to pass through the digestive system more quickly.
  • Stress and anxiety can trigger nervous colitis.
  • In the first weeks of pregnancy, one can suffer from diarrhea due to nausea and vomiting, as they make proper nutrition impossible.
  • Excessive sporting activity.

In many cases, the cause of diarrhea cannot be identified; this is also not absolutely necessary if it disappears by itself in a few days.

What are the symptoms of diarrhea?

Most often, diarrhea causes symptoms such as:

  • Stomach ache
  • Flatulence
  • Cramps
  • Frequent and fluid bowel movements
  • Nausea
  • Urge to defecate

In adults, transient diarrhea is usually not harmful, but can sometimes indicate more serious problems.
Due to their smaller body volume, serious consequences can occur in children with persistent diarrhea.
Newborns and infants should continue to be breastfed to avoid dehydration, and breast milk has antibacterial properties.

Natural remedies to curb diarrhea

Increase the amount of calories. Eat small and frequent meals and snacks. Do not eat large amounts at once, as this could make diarrhea worse. Spread food intake throughout the day, often eating small snacks.

Eat foods with probiotics. Probiotics are naturally present in all yogurts and are beneficial for various types of diarrhea, including diarrhea that occurs as a result of cancer treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Avoid cold. The abdomen should always be well covered.

People have different tolerances to food. Avoid foods that cause cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.

If cramps occur, one should avoid foods that produce gases, such as:

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Beer
  • Legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils)
  • Herb
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spicy foods
  • Chewing gum

Foods consumed at room temperature are better tolerated than hot or cold foods.

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