colon health tips

- Chronic Diarrhea -
Causes and Treatment for Loose Bowel Movements

Chronic diarrhea causes are diverse and can be difficult to diagnose.

If your loose bowel movements continue for more than 4 weeks it is considered chronic. Diarrhea caused by acute gastroenteritis can be traced to infection with a virus or bacteria and lasts only a few days. Loose stools that continue for weeks is more complex.

Non-stop diarrhea can be distressing while occasional diarrhea can be inconvenient and embarrassing. Loose bowel movements, intestinal cramps, and diarrhea that continues on for weeks is not normal and should be investigated.

person with diarrhea and stomach cramps holding stomach

The most common causes of chronic diarrhea can be organized into 6 categories:

  • Bowel Disease - inflammation and irritability in the bowel typically result in loose bowel movements.
  • Parasites - having unwanted wildlife in your colon can cause a number of intestinal complaints including diarrhea.
  • Food Sensitivities and/or allergies are causes of diarrhea.
  • Endocrine imbalance - an overactive thyroid or a complication of diabetes can cause loose bowel movements.
  • Chemical exposures - such as from medicines, food additives and food coloring.
  • Intestinal Dysbiosis - an interruption in the balance of the microflora or good bacteria (probiotics) in your colon may result in loose bowel movements, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

Bowel Diseases

It is usually inflammation or irritation of the mucus lining of the colon that causes chronic diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea causes significant fluid loss from the body. It is important to replace those fluids so whatever else you do for diarrhea treatment make sure you keep your fluid intake up.

This should be at least 1-2 liters of fluid outside of meals.

Bowel problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's Disease, or ulcerative colitis will all cause chronic diarrhea. With proper treatment however, loose bowel movements can be brought under control.

Irritable bowel syndrome is not even considered to be a bowel disease as it responds well to lifestyle and diet changes.

Infections of the bowel are caused by invading pathogens such as Norwalk virus, rota virus and/or food poisoning. This will cause short term diarrhea that is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and fever. Sometimes however, the acute gastroenteritis will cause such a disruption in colon health that chronic diarrhea can result, especially diarrhea after eating.

This is a sign that the three essential ingredients needed for maintaining colon health are out of balance.


There are many different types of human intestinal parasites. Their presence anywhere in the digestive tract can cause diarrhea symptoms. They are a less common cause of loose stools in developed countries but nevertheless, their presence can be a significant contributor to poor health.

Investigation for chronic diarrhea causes should include examination of the stool to identify parasitic infestation. This is especially important if you are around animals a lot, have been travelling out of the country, or recently have been eating unusual or undercooked foods.

Food Sensitivities and Allergies

If you are sensitive to a specific food constituent then your bowel may react with loose bowel movements. Essentially your bowel is trying to rid itself of something that perceives to be harmful.

The most common offenders are lactose in dairy products and gluten in wheat products, but honestly your body can be sensitive to anything including everyday spices, like pepper or other seasonings.

Endocrine Imbalance

The most common endocrine condition that would cause loose bowel movements is an overactive thyroid. However, diabetes can also be a cause of loose stools by causing damage to the nerves that regulate the digestive system.

Chemical Exposures

Ingestion of chemicals either as medication or in food, may irritate the colon. Food coloring is not only added to foods it is sometimes added to medications so that your pills are a pretty blue or pink color; and then there are many other food additives put into prepared foods to create texture or moisture.

Diarrhea is listed as a side effect for a multitude of medications - especially antibiotics.

Intestinal Dysbiosis

Intestinal dysbiosis is the term that refers to a disruption in the balance of bacteria in your colon's internal environment. There are many types of bacteria that are absolutely necessary for your colon to fulfill it functions and keep you healthy. When antibiotics destroy them, your colon cannot function properly and diarrhea could be the result.

One way to put these healthy bacteria back into the colon is by re-implanting them with a fecal transplant.

Read about the fecal transplant as a cure for C Diff Colitis

Lifestyle factors that interrupt the balance of these essential organisms can result in both constipation and diarrhea. How can constipation and diarrhea both have the same cause? ...(see What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Colon Health Tips About Chronic Diarrhea Causes and Treatments

If there is no identifiable cause for loose bowel movements that continue for weeks it is best to consult a health professional. If no diagnosis is forthcoming from a medical physician then a natural health practitioner is your best choice for restoring colon health.

Even with a diagnosis such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's Disease as the cause of your diarrhea, there is still hope for restoring colon health through proper diet, elimination of food sensitivities, using fiber supplements and restoring proper gut flora to correct any underlying intestinal dysbiosis.

There are a number of tests that can identify chronic diarrhea causes. If your loose stools go on for several weeks your physician should set about isolate a specific cause from those listed above.

But often the real cause of long term loose bowel movements is a combination of factors. Changing your diet, increasing your fiber intake and taking probiotic supplements might be among the solutions suggested by a natural health care practitioner along with herbs, nutritional supplements, and even acupuncture.

To get the best results from natural therapies make sure you work with practitioner(s) who are well educated and knowledgeable about a variety of therapies and products, rather than someone trying to sell a specific therapy or line of products.

by Beverly OMalley

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