Chronic Diarrhea- Its Causes and Treatment


Diarrhea is a condition characterized by frequent and watery bowel movements. It is caused by bacteria such as salmonella; viruses such as norovirus and rotavirus; or parasites like giardia. They infect the bowel and cause irresistible urges to use the toilet. This can also cause abdominal pain, bloody stool, vomiting, weakness, and tiredness.

What Is Chronic Diarrhea?

Usually, diarrhea gets resolved on its own within a week. But if the symptoms persist for more than four weeks, it is a case of chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea can be dangerous especially when it leads to extreme dehydration. The frequent watery bowel movements cause excessive loss of water from the body, which leads to dizziness, reduced the amount of urine, lethargy and other problems. This can further lead to multiple infections in the body.

What Causes Chronic Diarrhea?

The recurring diarrhea episodes can be a result of an underlying health condition such as inflammation in the intestines due to gluten or lactose intolerance, bowel cancer, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome. Other causes of chronic diarrhea include certain antibiotic and anticancer drugs.

How Is Chronic Diarrhea Diagnosed?

Chronic diarrhea is diagnosed by examination of the blood and the stool. Sometimes sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy is advised to rule out the presence of the inflammatory bowel disease.

How Can Chronic Diarrhea Be Treated?

Treating Chronic Diarrhea At Home:

If you are suffering from chronic diarrhea, it is essential to take proper care of yourself so that the symptoms do not aggravate further. You can make individual steps at home to treat chronic diarrhea or stop it from exacerbating.

Avoid Dairy Products

If your diarrhea is aggravated by lactose intolerance, try to avoid dairy products like milk and other milk products. This is a great way to treat chronic diarrhea.

Go For Gluten Free Food Items

If gluten is the cause of diarrhea, avoid foods such as pasta, bread, crackers, wheat starch, and semolina. Instead, consume grains such as millet, quinoa, rice, buckwheat, arrowroot, and sorghum.

Avoid Caffeine Or Sugary Products

Caffeine and soft drinks with high sugar content can trigger bowel movements, and lead to diarrhea. Avoid excessive amounts of both to keep your stomach calm.

Hot Water Treatment

In some cases, chronic diarrhea is accompanied by abdominal pain and severe cramps. Place a hot water bottle on your stomach to relieve the abdominal cramps.

Avoid NSAIDs Or Nonsteroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs

Avoid taking NSAIDs because, sometimes, they can cause diarrhea. The most common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that cause diarrhea are aspirin, celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Zipsor, Zorvolex), diflunisal (Dolobid – discontinued brand), etodolac (Lodine), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and indomethacin (Indocin).

Chronic diarrhea can be caused due to many factors including certain diseases, allergy to food items, and some particular bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Therefore, it is essential to find out the exact cause of diarrhea before the treatment.

If you have tried all the home remedies and nothing seems to work, you should consult a physician, and take antibiotic medicines after diagnosis (for any other illness) to relieve the symptoms of diarrhea.

There are some antibiotic courses that you can adapt to treat chronic diarrhea.

Anti-diarrhea Medicines

Antibiotic medicines help to relieve the symptoms and treat chronic diarrhea. Over-the-counter medicines like Imodium can help with the loose motions. You can also go for prescription drugs such as Lomotil or Octreotide that give instant relief.

Do not overdose on these medicines as they can be harmful.

High Fiber Supplement

In some cases of chronic diarrhea, doctors prescribe high fiber diet or fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Konsyl, and Citrucel to help bulk the stool and reduce the frequency of watery motions. Note: These medicines work on the symptoms rather than the cause of the disease.

Try including natural foods such as split peas, lentils, black beans, lima beans, artichokes, and peas, that contain high fiber contents, in your diet to avoid severe cases of diarrhea.

Bismuth Subsalicylate

Bismuth Subsalicylate or Pepto-Bismol is an antacid medicine which helps cure the inflammation and infection of the gastrointestinal tract and the stomach by countering the action of acids produced in the stomach. This medication calms down the irritated stomach and helps treat chronic diarrhea.

How To Prevent Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a disease which is caused by infection and inflammation of the bowel. Keep your food covered to avoid germs. Keep kitchen utensils and other items you use clean and sanitized to prevent any infection.

If diarrhea is caused by some other disease or medication, consult your doctor for replacing the medicines with the ones that suit you.

Treat your diarrhea and stay healthy!