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Acute and chronic diarrhea – causes of diarrhea

If your stool is normal and suddenly is replaced by diarrhea then you can think of an infectious diarrhea (may be a diarrhea with blood or pus), food intoxication, travelers diarrhea if you are on a journey. If diarrhea has a sour smell then is fermentation diarrhea (possibly due to food). If diarrhea is yellow it’s called steatorrhea (occurs in pancreatic disease).

If you have diarrhea accompanied by stomach pain, the painful area may indicate the affected segment of bowel. Watery diarrhea with pain around the navel that does not respond after defecation suggests a small bowel disease (it can be from lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, Crohn’s disease or from parasites). Watery diarrhea with or without blood, mucus, pus but with rectal tenesmus and urge defecation after which the pain disappears, indicate a pathology of the colon (irritable bowel, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative rectocolitis, tumors).

If diarrhea is alternating with constipation, then you suffer from irritable bowel. Also in irritable bowel disease can occur abdominal discomfort, numerous flatulence. A weight loss associated with a chronic diarrhea with symptoms of anemia may suggest a colon cancer.

Chronic diarrhea is defined as exceeding 3 weeks and can occur in:

  • abuse of laxatives,
  • irritable colon,
  •  infections, malabsorption,
  •  inflammatory bowel disease: ulcerative rectocolitis, Crohn’s disease – diarrhea is accompanied by pain in the iliac fossa (laterally below the navel) with palpable mass. Same symptoms appear in intestinal TB or in Meckel diverticulitis or in intestinal lymphoma,
  • Colon cancer occurs with sudden weight loss,
  • endocrine diseases like hyperthyroidism – the patient has diarrhea and shaking apart, goiter, fast pulse; thyroid carcinoma, Addison’s disease: cutaneous hyperpigmentation appears as in celiac disease,
  • diabetes (nocturnal diarrhea),
  • pancreatic tumors (yellow diarrhea),
  • intestinal carcinoid (diarrhea, redness of the face and bronchospasm),
  • Radiation enterocolitis (side effect of radiotherapy),
  • amyloidosis (patient has big tongue – macroglossia).

Drugs that can give diarrhea are: thyroxine (used to treat hypothyroidism), cytostatics (diarrhea as a side effect of chemotherapy), metformin (diabetes treatment), quinidine, propanol (used for arrhythmias, hypertension and heart failure with atrial fibrillation), diarrhea caused by cimetidine and antiacids with magnesium (medication administered in ulcer disease), antibiotics can cause colitis, and last but not least the laxatives.

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