Causes of Diarrhea

The occurrence of diarrhea can be acute (sudden) or chronic (long standing)

  • Sudden diarrhea is usually caused from infection like

o    Viruses commonly causes diarrhea. Rotavirus is the most common virus causing diarrhea in children.

o    Bacteria

i.        Salmonella group which includes bacteria causing typhoid fever.

ii.        E.Coli mostly results in food poisoning.

iii.        Shigella causes dysentery.

iv.        Vibro cholerae causing cholera.

o    Parasites 

i.        Giardia Lamblia

ii.        Entamoeba histolytica

  • Chronic diarrhea persists for weeks or months, whether constant or intermittent. It can be a result of inflammation mainly due to underlying gastrointestinal disease which can be :

o    Crohn’s disease

o    Irritable Bowel Syndrome

o    Ulcerative Colitis

o    Malabsorption or increased intestinal secretion

o    Bowel cancer which is rare

  • Consumption of contaminated food or water which can be result of :

o    poor sewage systems or contamination by animal feces (stool) in adequately purified water.

o    contamination by chemicals, germs, bacteria, virus, or any other infective agents.

o    flies which spread germs especially on the fruits and sweets left open.

o    food handler who are suffering from diarrhea and distributing food with their unwashed hands.

o    not washing hands after passing stools.

  • Lack of refrigeration of food stuff, overcrowding and lack of personal hygiene, poverty, lack of access to health care, and lack of education.
  • Food intolerance: some people might have allergy to certain food items in which they are not able to digest a component like proteins of egg, lactose of milk.
  • Stress and anxiety

o    fear of examination

o    while traveling

o    sudden urge to pass stools frequently before any event.

  • Ingestion of drugs or toxins

o    prolong intake of antibiotics like ampicillin, amoxicillin, tetracycline as it can cause reduction of normal bacterial flora present in the intestine which are beneficial.

o    administration of chemotherapy.

o    alcohol and drugs.

  • Traveler’s diarrhea, in which people traveling to countries or areas having poor sanitation or they may have diarrhea from eating or drinking contaminated food or beverages.
  • Excessive intake of vitamin C or anti-acidity medications having magnesium.
  • AIDS: people having AIDS are in increased risk of serious intestinal infection causing diarrhea.
  • After stomach surgery or removal of gall bladder (very rare)
  • Radiotherapy can also cause diarrhea but in rare cases.
  • Laxative abuse
  • Carbohydrate Malabsorption
  • Diabetic diarrhea

Food poisoning can occur generally due to the consumption of contaminated food and water or unpasteurized milk and occurs mostly in summers as the bacteria grow rapidly in this season.