There is absolutely nothing sexy about diarrhea, but we’ve all had to deal with it at some time in our lives. Whether you had the occasional bout with the flu or a taste of food gone bad, to having to change poopy diapers, it’s a part of life. Yet, it’s still embarrassing when you have it and, even more so, when you talk about it. It’s not a subject most people are comfortable with.
Like most subjects that involve “unpleasant” bodily functions, it is simply “too much information.” If the frequency of diarrhea comes often enough that it happens weekly or even daily, it quickly becomes a problem that feels isolating and embarrassing.
Diarrhea is a signal that something is off in your body, whether it’s due to a physical or mental health condition. But when diarrhea becomes chronic, what does that mean for you and your health? Ignoring chronic diarrhea is certainly not an option; and if you do experience diarrhea more frequently than most, here are some things it can point to.
Food Sensitivities and Food Intolerances
Life moves faster than it used to, and you’ve had to adjust to that quickened pace with work, school, family, and even exercise. Oftentimes, eating a sit-down meal is not something that you can work into your busy schedule, and you’re picking up on-the-go meals and eating in the car. Unless you’ve done research into the ingredients of everything you eat, there is a strong likelihood that an ingredient in the food you eat is causing your system to resist it.
Food sensitivities and intolerances are very common, yet many individuals suffer without knowing why. If you suspect the cause of your diarrhea could be something you’re eating, take the time to eliminate some of the usual suspects, such as dairy, gluten, and sugar, and see how you feel. If the symptoms continue, something more may be the cause.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common household term, but what does it really mean? IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder. It’s a functional disease, which is a fancy way of saying that the symptoms are nonspecific and common to other gastrointestinal conditions. Many things cause IBS, such as a food intolerance, stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. It is also common among women under 50 years old and is considered to be hereditary. It’s important to take a family history if IBS is suspected.
Unfortunately, chronic diarrhea can be a side effect of a medication you need to take, such as an antibiotic. If you are experiencing diarrhea and suspect it is a result of a medication you are taking, you should talk with your doctor.
Serious Medical Condition
Chronic diarrhea can also be a sign of a significantly more serious medical condition. Of course, it’s not fun or easy to think about, but watery stool that lasts for more than four weeks can be an indicator of Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or ulcerative colitis. These conditions are far more serious and require more specific treatment protocols, which may include surgery and hospitalization.
Regardless of the cause of chronic diarrhea, the most important course of action is to seek medical attention. Untreated diarrhea can lead to dehydration and the malabsorption of nutrients, which may lead to further health complications. Communication and keeping track of symptoms are your best ally in finding the root cause of the diarrhea and ultimately finding a solution.
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