When people have chronic diarrhea, they have had loose stools for at least four weeks, usually at least three times per day. There are many reasons why diarrhea is prolonged, and treatment is usually targeted at that specific reason, rather than treating the diarrhea itself. Having prolonged diarrhea can have a significant negative impact on overall quality of life. At its worst, it can be life threatening. Thankfully, treatment is available.

Examining the Reasons Why Diarrhea Is Prolonged:

There are lots of different reasons as to why someone may have prolonged diarrhea, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, malabsorption, chronic infection, cancer, medication, and more. That said, the most common reasons why diarrhea is prolonged are:

  1. IBS, which is the most common reason. Someone with IBS will experience cramps in the abdominal area and changes in their bowel movements, whether it is diarrhea or constipation. Some people develop IBS after an infection.
  2. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), of which there are numerous types, including ulcerative colitis and Chrohn’s disease. There are autoimmune conditions that attack parts of the digestive tracts. These are serious conditions that require medical management.
  3. Infections. Lots of infections of the intestinal tract can cause prolonged diarrhea. It is common for this to happen in tropical areas, particularly in places where sanitation and medical care is not as good yet. It can also be a result of eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated beverages, including raw milk. This is why it is so important to properly cook food and to always take part in proper food hygiene.
  4. Endocrine disorders, including hyperthyroidism. This can lead to weight loss and chronic diarrhea. Diabetes is another example of an endocrine disorder that can lead to diarrhea, particularly if the digestive tract’s nerves have been damaged.
  5. Food sensitivities or allergies. People with celiac disease, for instance, are intolerant to gluten, which is found in almost every food nowadays, either directly or through cross contamination. Until they are diagnosed or otherwise choose to avoid gluten, they are likely to experience chronic diarrhea.
  6. Medication. Numerous forms of both prescription and over the counter drugs can cause prolonged diarrhea, ranging from laxatives to chemotherapy drugs. It is important to read the label, therefore, particularly if patients take medication because they are in a weakened state. This is because diarrhea can leave them dehydrated, with potentially very dangerous consequences.

Do You Have Chronic Diarrhea?

If you have diarrhea and have to open your bowels at least three times per day for a four week period, you need to seek medical attention. Even if your stools are only somewhat softer than normal, rather than being completely watery, you should have things checked out. Diarrhea is almost always symptomatic of an underlying condition that requires treatment, and this must be addressed, therefore, before the situation becomes worse. In most cases, the condition is of a temporary nature and responds well to treatment, which means there is no need for you to live with prolonged diarrhea.