Are you afraid to go out with your girlfriends or on date night because you’re afraid you’re going to end up too far from the bathroom…or justly simply embarrassed about it? Or maybe your partner is always running to the bathroom immediately after dinner because he constantly has an unpredictable stomach every time he eats.
There are 10 common causes of chronic diarrhea that may explain why you or your loved one spends more time on the toilet than on post-date cuddling on the couch.
Bacteria overgrowth conditions like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can be a root cause of diarrhea. There are a few different types of SIBO and some of the most common are hydrogen-dominant, methane dominant, or a combination of both. I will often times see hydrogen-dominant SIBO causing diarrhea. The way I typically test for SIBO in my practice is via a breath test.
Parasites are a lot more common than you may think. While Giardia is known to cause “traveler’s diarrhea”, other kinds of parasites can also wreak havoc on your gut.
Parasites mostly live in the digestive tract, but can spread to other parts of your body! But typically, the first signs of parasites is digestive issues, like diarrhea. You may also experience fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, bloating, and even brain fog with parasites.
If you do have parasites, some can be pathogenic and should be corrected with the support of a functional medicine expert. If they are left unaddressed, their havoc can lead to more serious health conditions like autoimmune diseases, leaky gut, and mental health issues.
Unlike an allergy, food sensitivities can cause symptoms hours or even days after you ingest the food that’s the culprit. That’s why it’s so hard to put the two and two together. While you can try the elimination diet, by cutting out foods you think could be the issues, food sensitivity testing can stop you from guessing, and get concrete answers. This way you can avoid the foods causing you to run to the bathroom, experience relief, and give your gut time to rest and heal from the trigger foods.
If you have Celiac, it could be the reason why you’re running to the bathroom in an emergency after every meal. Tons of meals these days contain some sort of gluten, it can oftentimes be hidden in sauces as well. What happens is that your immune system is triggered by gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Over time it causes inflammation that damages your small intestine’s lining, causing issues with absorption. The most common symptom of Celiac, which is an autoimmune disease is diarrhea. Even if you don’t have celiac, gluten could still be affecting your gut.
Some people don’t have a specific enzyme, lactase, or enough of it that breaks down lactose. Lactose is the sugar that’s in milk and dairy products. If you can’t break down and absorb lactose, it can lead to stomach pains and diarrhea. If you catch yourself always in pain after eating pizza, ice cream, or cheese, I would say to avoid dairy products and see if your digestive mayhem subsides.
Viral infections can get ya and sometimes it’s not pretty. I have an article all about recovering and some remedies to consider if you get it thought! The most common viral infection that causes diarrhea is the Norovirus. It is responsible for 90% of epidemic diarrheal cases around the world and is approximately 50% of all viral gastroenteritis cases. Although viruses should be short-lived, they can trigger post-infectious IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). This means, that your stomach may be more susceptible to issues, post-stomach bug.
Alcohol and caffeine are gastrointestinal stimulants. This means that it can speed up peristalsis (aka muscle contractions that move food through your digestive tract). When this happens so quickly, it doesn’t allow for water to be absorbed by your colon as it typically does. This can cause your stool to come out as diarrhea.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and alcohol than others. Your partner may be able to drink 3 cups a day (which I don’t recommend for various reasons…) and for you, one sip could send you straight running to the bathroom. If you have a history of gut issues, you may be more sensitive to alcohol and caffeine.
Stress and heighten anxiety cause lots of chaos in the body. It can either cause major chronic constipation, leaving you backed up for days, or it could result in diarrhea. When your brain perceives stress or anxiety, it can actually create spasms in your gut, leading to “stress poop”. These intestinal spasms can speed up your GI activity, causing diarrhea.
It’s important to take a step back and acknowledge where your stress and anxiety are coming from. Try to avoid these situations, but I know not all stress is avoidable! This is why working on your mindset and truly practicing (and being consistent) with mindfulness and stress management techniques is vital for optimal well-being. The mind has a powerful impact on the gut.
If you eat an abundance of fruit or veggies that contain loads of fiber, and your body isn’t used to eating large amounts, it could cause diarrhea. If you are trying to switch to a whole foods diet, be careful with your fiber or raw vegetable intake. Eat a well-balanced meal to help and watch what you throw into your smoothies. Even healthy smoothies could cause digestive upset.
Some prescription meds, over-the-counter meds, and yes, even supplements can cause diarrhea. This includes some vitamins, minerals, and herbs. For example, magnesium citrate is great for people who are constipated, but it’s not so great if you’re taking it for anxiety and already are regular or have the runs a couple of times a week. This can surely cause unwanted loose stool/ diarrhea.
If you need access to a stool test, a gut health expert, and personalized protocols, the Get Your Gut Right program might be the right fit for you. This is a very comprehensive program that also focuses on nutrition, detox pathways, the nervous system, clean environment, and more. Click HERE to learn more.
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