Diarrhea Causes

The causes of diarrhea may be bacterial or viral or even parasitic. Diarrhea treatment can be determined only after knowing the exact cause of the infection. Discussed in the following sections are some of the causes of diarrhea.

Bacterial causes of diarrhea

Bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria and Escherichia coli contaminate food like meat, fish, poultry, eggs etc. They are also present in drinking water. Bacteria such as these cause havoc on the digestive system and cause severe symptoms like vomiting, fever, chills and severe abdominal cramps. Hence it is extremely necessary for you to eat food prepared in highly hygienic conditions and drink boiled or filtered water to avoid getting the infection.

Viral infections

Viruses such as rotavirus, adenovirus, norovirus, cytomegalovirus etc may cause diarrhea. Viral infections are contagious and can spread easily from one person to another by touch or can spread via unwashed and unclean utensils, towels etc. Using soap or a hand sanitizer as frequently as possible can prevent the virus from entering your body.

Parasitic causes of diarrhea

Parasites like Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium can cause diarrheal infections. They usually spread via contaminated water.

Traveller’s diarrhea

This type of diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is caused due to consuming contaminated food or raw, untreated water. There is no specific organism that causes traveller’s diarrhea, but E. coli has been found to be the causative agent in many cases. The only way to avoid traveller’s diarrhea is to avoid drinking water from faucets or public taps and eat food only from good, reliable restaurants.

Antibiotics causing diarrhea

Many a times antibiotics that are intended to treat a disorder, may disturb the normal micro-organism population of the intestine. This is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in people who are undergoing treatment for cancer, hypertension or diabetes.

Food intolerance

Lactose intolerance people suffer from diarrhea as soon as they consume milk or any dairy product. This happens because the body has trouble digesting lactose products. Such people suffer from severe cramps, vomiting and gas immediately after consuming lactose. Some people suffer from diarrheal episodes if they consume excessive spicy food or pepper. Artificial sweeteners have also been found to be the cause of diarrhea in some people.

When should you see a doctor?

You should consult your doctor if you suffer from any of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea for more than 2 days
  • Passage of loose, watery or mucous stools
  • Black and tarry stools
  • Stools containing blood or pus
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Pain in the rectum
  • High fever and chills
  • Signs of dehydration.


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