Diarrhea – symptoms, causes and other risk factors



When you have watery and loose stools which are happening more than usual, then you suffer from diarrhea. This is a condition which can happen in every individual. When you have diarrhea, then you have to go the toilet more often. Also when you suffer from diarrhea you have a greater volume of your stool. When you have diarrhea, then you have symptoms and signs which in the most cases lasts two days. But also there are some cases when you have diarrhea, then it can last more weeks than the usual period. If this is your case, then you should be worried because it can be a sign of serious disease such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

Symptoms of diarrhea

Here are the signs and symptoms which you can feel if you suffer from this problem:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Frequent, loose, watery stools
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal cramps

If you are an adult and you have noticed that this condition lasts more than two days or you have black or bloody stools, then you must see your doctor. Also you should talk with your doctor if you become dehydrated, you have a fever above 39 C (102 F) or you have severe rectal or abdominal pain. When young children have this problem, then it disease can lead to dehydration [1]. If you have noticed that the condition of your child is not improved, then you should talk with your doctor. If you have a baby who has a dry mouth or cries without tears, has a fever above 39 C (102 F), has skin that does not flatten if pinched and released, has not had a wet diaper in three or more hours, has a sunken appearance to the abdomen, cheeks or eyes, has bloody or black stools and it is unusually irritable, sleepy, unresponsive or drowsy, then you must take your baby to the doctor as soon as you can.

Causes for diarrhea: When the fluids and food which you consume pass to quickly or they are in large amounts through your colon, then you have a diarrhea. When you eat food, then your colon is absorbing the liquids from it which means that you have a semisolid stool. But if the colon does not absorb the liquids from your food, then you can have watery bowel movements. There are many causes for it such as


  • Surgery: If you have gallbladder removal surgery or undergoing abdominal surgery, then you have a risk of getting diarrhea. [2]
  • Fructose: People who have problems with digestion of this natural sugar can have increased chances to get diarrhea. This is natural sugar. It is component of fruits. We often add it to beverages which can cause us this problem. Also honey has this type of natural sugar. [3]
  • Viruses: Viral hepatitis, Norwalk virus and cytomegalovirus are a reason for diarrhea. If you have acute childhood diarrhea, then Rotavirus is the most common cause for it. [4]
  • Medications: There are many medications which can cause this problem. Antibiotics are the most common cause for diarrhea [5]. When we use antibiotics, then they are destroying the good and the bad bacteria which mean that we do not have normal balance of bacteria in our intestines. When we have this kind of unbalance, then we can have an infection with the bacteria known as Clostridium difficile. This kind of bacteria in many cases is a reason for the diarrhea.
  • Artificial sweeteners: There are some kinds of artificial sweeteners such as mannitol and sorbitol which are component of the chewing gum and other products which are known as sugar – free products which in the most cases leads to diarrhea even we do not have any kind of disease. [6]
  • Bacteria and parasites: The contaminated water or food can transmit parasites and bacteria in our bodies. Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia which are parasites are a reason for diarrhea. Escherichia coli, shigella, campylobacter and salmonella are bacteria which can lead to diarrhea. When you have a diarrhea which is caused by parasites and bacteria, then you can get this kind of diarrhea from some country that you have traveled. This kind is known as traveler’s diarrhea. [7]
  • Lactose intolerance: This is a kind of sugar which is found in milk and other kinds of dairy products. Many people who eat dairy products have diarrhea because they are feeling difficulties with digesting process of lactose. [8]

Above are some of the symptoms and causes of Diarrhea


[1] Anigilaje EA. Management of diarrhoeal dehydration in childhood: A review for clinicians in developing countries. Frontiers in Pediatrics. 2018;6:28. doi:10.3389/fped.2018.00028

[2] Juckett G, Trivedi R. Evaluation of chronic diarrhea. American Family Physician. 2011;84(10):1119-26.

[3] DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC. Is fructose malabsorption a cause of irritable bowel syndrome? Medical Hypotheses. 2015;85(3):295–7.

[4] D’Amico F, Baumgart DC, Danese S, Peyrin-Biroulet L. Diarrhea during COVID-19 infection: Pathogenesis, epidemiology, prevention, and management. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2020;18(8):1663-72.

[5] Harvard Health Publishing. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea. 2019. Retrieved from www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/antibiotic-associated-diarrhea-a-to-z

[6] Lardieri A. Study: Artificial sweeteners toxic to digestive gut bacteria. CNBC. 2018. Retrieved from www.cnbc.com/2018/10/03/artificial-sweeteners-are-toxic-to-digestive-gut-bacteria-study.html

[7] Saneian H, Yaghini O, Yaghini A, et al. Infection rate of Cryptosporidium parvum among diarrheic children in Isfahan. Iranian Journal of Pediatrics. 2010;20(3):343–7.

[8] Deng Y, Misselwitz B, Dai N, Fox M. Lactose intolerance in adults: Biological mechanism and dietary management. Nutrients. 2015;7(9):8020–35.



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