Episodes of diarrhoea can be short and transient or they can go on for a considerable period of time. There could have been a sudden onset after an overseas holiday or it may have just been getting gradually worse. I see many clients with persistent diarrhoea and the treatment plan is never the same. Each client may have a different trigger(s) for the diarrhoea. Some of the causes of diarrhoea include:
CAUSES OF CHRONIC DIARRHOEA
- Alcohol abuse. Alcohol is damaging to the gut lining and can encourage diarrhoea. If you are drinking every night and getting diarrhoea every morning there is an obvious fix.
- Food allergies and intolerances. If you consume foods that you react to it causes an inflammatory response in the gut, which may lead to diarrhoea.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis.
- Bacterial infections. These can involve common bacteria such as e.coli, Salmonella etc., but they can also involve some not so common types as well. The testing I do for pathogenic bacteria is very comprehensive (a comprehensive digestive food analysis), and is much more likely to find the culprit.
- Dysbiosis. Diarrhoea can also be caused by dysfunction in the bacteria that is housed in our own gut. This is known as dysbiosis. When I work with my gut clients I always have the gut bacteria at the forefront of my treatments and investigations. If they are not doing well, there is a good chance that you aren’t either!
- Parasites. Common gut parasites such as Giardia, Entamoeba, Ascaris etc can be big drivers of diarrhoea. The Comprehensive Stool Analysis (x 3 = 3 different samples) tests for a big range of parasites and because you are testing over 3 different stools the chance of catching the little blighter is 80% compared to 30% in tests using one stool.
- Laxative abuse. A common habit in eating disorders.
- Medications. There are very few medically prescribed medications that do not have gut upset on their list of side effects. One of a few of your medications may be causing the problem.
- Hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid speeds up everything in the body including gut transit time which can lead to diarrhoea.
- Running. Runner’s gut is real and can be a major cause of persistent diarrhoea.
- Cancers. Including cancer of the stomach or bowel.
- Radiation therapy. Diarrhoea is an unfortunate side effect.
CHRONIC DIARRHOEA MANAGEMENT
Diarrhoea can be very uncomfortable but it can also become life threatening. Persistent runny stools can lead to dehydration from a loss of essential electrolytes, malnutrition and weight loss, and if there is blood in your stool you should definitely seek medical help.
There are lots of ways we can help to eradicate diarrhoea. In the first instance there a few diets that may provide instant relief. Taking common gut irritants like gluten and dairy out of the diet can often solve the problem (you may not have reacted to them before gut inflammation can cause you to react to foods that were ok before). The FODMAPs exclusion diet can also provide instant relief. Some other gut irritants such as sulphites, oxalates, histamines, phytates, lectins could also be common culprits. We would make the decision which way to go based on the information you provide during your consultation.
If a more prolonged investigation is required, I would recommend food allergy and intolerance testing. If all of the signs were there I would suggest a trip to your GP for coeliac testing and a check for the more common pathogenic bacteria and parasites. We could also go straight to a comprehensive stool analysis with parasitology and or microbiome mapping.
Diarrhoea can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and can seriously affect your quality of life. There are many ways we can help you get to the bottom of your diarrhoea and make it go away.