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3 Top Causes of Diarrhea

By Brookhaven Gastroenterology Associates
November 26, 2014




There are several culprits that could cause diarrhea to flare up.

Sure, this might not be the most comfortable issue to discuss with others; however, if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it with your doctor, then who can you? If you are experiencing diarrhea, then you know that it can put quite the damper on your daily routine. It makes your workday more stressful, it makes choosing meals a challenge, and forget about actually enjoying a night out. If you have diarrhea, here are some of the top causes for this pesky little problem and how to handle them:

Bacterial infections: About one in six people in the United States get sick from contaminated food each year. The well known E. coli and salmonella bacteria are often the culprits, and symptoms can appear between two to eight days after swallowing the contaminated food.

Most people will develop diarrhea as a result, which is often accompanied by abdominal cramps. The majority of cases will clear up on their own within a week; however, some illnesses can remain for over a week or become severe. The best way to prevent these kinds of bacterial infections is to always wash hands after using the bathroom and handling raw food, cook meats completely, and avoid cross-contamination during food prep by washing all countertops and cutting boards immediately.

Viral Gastroenteritis: This infection is often caused by the rotavirus or norovirus. The symptoms can mimic that of a bacterial infection; however, antibiotics won’t effectively treat this problem. Rest and staying hydrated are the staples of treatment. Just like with bacterial infections, you can avoid viral infections by properly handling food and washing hands whenever appropriate.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): If you experience diarrhea that doesn’t go away, you may have this common medical condition. Along with diarrhea, those with IBS also experience cramping, abdominal pain and bloating. Dietary changes are necessary for treating IBS. This means increasing fiber intake, eliminating carbonated beverages, gluten, and certain carbohydrates. Talk to your gastroenterologist about foods to avoid, as well as other treatment options.

Other causes of diarrhea include celiac disease, diabetes, intestinal diseases, hyperthyroidism, traveler’s diarrhea, and food allergies. For mild cases, many patients find over-the-counter remedies like Pepto-Bismol actually relieves symptoms; however, if you are experiencing prolonged or bloody diarrhea, or diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever, it’s time to call us to schedule an appointment.

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