Diarrhea is stools with a water-like consistency. Diarrhea also increases the frequency of the bowel movements, but the main characteristic of the condition is the watery nature of stools. There are many different chronic diarrhea causes, and the symptoms can last for more than four weeks.
Chronic diarrhea can occur for several different reasons.
- Chronic diarrhea causes related to inflammation in the intestines are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both of these diseases can inflame the intestines and cause severe diarrhea (often with bloody stools).
- Chronic diarrhea causes related to improper absorption of fat are diseases of the small intestine and low levels of pancreatic enzymes. Any injury to the pancreas can cause low enzymes levels. This interferes with fat absorption in the body and causes chronic diarrhea. The pancreatic injuries or trauma can occur due to alcoholism, cancer, cystic fibrosis and hereditary pancreatitis.
Gluten (a protein in some grains such as wheat) insensitivity can cause swelling in the small intestines and cause diarrhea. The small intestines can have difficulty in processing gluten in varying degrees. Some people only develop low to high levels of intolerance to gluten while others can have celiac disease. The latter is an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune conditions are those where the body wrongly reacts to the presence of a foreign substance and causes a reaction. In the case of celiac, the body or the immune system reacts to gluten.
- Chronic watery diarrhea can occur due to an improper absorption of certain carbohydrates in the body. These carbohydrates can be sorbitol, lactose, and fructose.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes diarrhea along with other digestive problems.
- Chronic diarrhea causes can also include parasitic infections and antibiotic use.
Treating the underlying cause of chronic diarrhea can provide relief from the condition.
- For conditions such as celiac disease, there is no cure but to avoid eating gluten. This can significantly improve gut health and provide relief from chronic diarrhea.
- For severe symptoms, the doctor can prescribe medicines.
Chronic diarrhea can be a very distressing condition. But with proper diagnosis, it is possible to treat or manage the symptoms.