What Are the Causes of Diarrhea?

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  • In the U.S., adults have at least one episode of diarrhea, while children get at least two bouts of this illness, annually
  • Most GI infections can also be prevented through simple measures like washing your hands thoroughly, especially before eating and after using the bathroom

Worldwide, there are approximately 1.7 billion cases of diarrheal disease every year, killing around 760,000 children.1 In the U.S., adults have at least one episode of diarrhea, while children get at least two bouts of this illness, annually.2,3 This is a very common ailment that can become serious, but you can help prevent it as long as you are aware of its causes.

Common Reasons for Having Diarrhea

According to the Mayo Clinic, diarrhea happens when the food and fluids you consume pass too quickly or in too large an amount (or both) through your large intestine. Normally, the liquids from the food you eat are absorbed by the colon, which results in a semi-solid stool, but if these liquids aren't absorbed properly, a watery bowel movement will occur.4

There are many possible reasons you can get diarrhea, with the most common ones being:5

Diarrhea May Also Occur Because of These Unusual Causes

You can also have an episode of diarrhea because of uncommon reasons, such as:12

Although some causes of diarrhea are unavoidable, such as disorders of the digestive system, there are others that you can stay away from. For instance, you can avoid the use of antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary, because they kill both good and bad bacteria in the colon.13 Most GI infections can also be prevented through simple measures like washing your hands thoroughly, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.14

MORE ABOUT DIARRHEA

Diarrhea: Introduction

What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea In Kids

Diarrhea During Pregnancy

Diarrhea Duration

Is Diarrhea Contagious?

Diarrhea Causes

Diarrhea Types

Diarrhea Symptoms

Diarrhea Treatment

Diarrhea Prevention

Diarrhea Diet

Diarrhea FAQ



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[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1, 7 World Health Organization, Diarrhoeal disease
  • 2 The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 1997;92(11):1962–1975.
  • 3 Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. 2001;30(3):611–624.
  • 4, 5 Mayo Clinic, Diarrhea
  • 6 Medical News Today, Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
  • 8 NHS Choices, Diarrhoea - Causes
  • 9 Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education, Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea and Clostridium Difficile
  • 10 Everyday Health, Is Your Diet Giving You Diarrhea?
  • 11 Everyday Health, Keep Stress From Causing an Upset Stomach
  • 12 Men’sHealth, 5 Strange Causes of Diarrhea
  • 13 The Atlantic, Taking Antibiotics Can Change the Gut Microbiome for Up to a Year
  • 14 TeensHealth, Gastrointestinal Infections and Diarrhea