Chronic diarrhea at the minimal level can be a nuisance, but if persistent it can be dangerous up to the point of becoming life threatening. Chronic diarrhea stands for persistent loose motion for a long period, say three weeks or more. Generally, the food and fluid you take in, are absorbed by your body. If it is not, this creates liquid bowel passing, which if unchecked takes the form of diarrhea.
Causes of Chronic Diarrhea
Chronic Diarrhea can be caused due to:
- Inflammatory bowel disease: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two types of inflammatory bowel disease, which happens when sections of the digestive tract is attacked by the body’s immune system.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): IBS is one of the common causes of diarrhea that can result in cramps and pain in abdomen and change in bowel habits, say from constipation to diarrhea or both. This often happens after an infection.
- Infections: Consuming contaminated food and water or raw milk, transmitting parasites and bacteria can cause intestinal infections. Bacteria like Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter and Escherichia coli and parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia cause chronic diarrhea.
- Endocrine disorders: Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, and diabetes can result in weight loss and chronic diarrhea.
- Viruses: Cytomegalovirus, viral hepatitis, Norwalk virus are responsible for diarrhea and rotavirus creates acute diarrhea in childhood.
- Food allergy or sensitivity: People who are hypersensitive and allergic to food, and suffering from celiac disease may suffer from chronic diarrhea.
- Fructose: Diarrhea can also result from indigestion of fructose a sugar component of fruits and honey and as sweetening component to some beverages.
- Lactose intolerance: The sugar found in milk is known as lactose, which you can digest due to the enzyme secreted in your body till you are a child. This massively reduces as you grow older and then digesting lactose can be a difficulty, which can cause diarrhea as well.
- Artificial sweeteners: Chewing gum and sugar-free products contains mannitol and sorbitol that can cause diarrhea even in a healthy body.
- Medicines: Prescribed or unprescribed drugs, especially antibiotics, dietary supplements and herbs can cause side effects and lead to chronic diarrhea.
- Surgery: Any surgery of abdomen and gall bladder can cause diarrhea to some people.
Symptoms of Chronic Diarrhea
The common signs of diarrhea are:
- Repeated loose motion
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Fever more than 102 deg F or 39 deg C
- Black or bloody stool
You must go to a doctor if you are an adult and your loose motion persists beyond 3 days and in case of a child, within 24 hours, a doctor must be consulted if situations don’t improve.
Treatment of Chronic Diarrhea
Mainly, if the cause of chronic diarrhea is detected, then antibiotics are given to cure the complications and check the loose motion. In cases, where the cause is intolerance towards certain food, medicine or lactose or fructose, treatment becomes easier by simply eliminating that food or medicine intake.
Things get complicated, if chronic diarrhea leads to malnutrition and dehydration. During this treatment, you will be charged antibiotics and asked to drink lots of fluids. In case, you cannot drink ample quantity of fluids, to replenish your electrolytes or salts and fluids, you might be given injections of these.