Chronic diarrhea means ongoing loose stools that can happen more than three times a day, even after trying anti-diarrheal medications for at least two weeks. This article explores when diarrhea becomes labeled chronic, its symptoms, and treatments but more importantly, when should you see a doctor?
How Is Chronic Different From Normal Diarrhea?
Regular or acute bouts or episodes of diarrhea are usually caused by food poisoning, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), viral gastroenteritis, parasites, lactose intolerance, and other conditions. Regular diarrhea can last more than two to four days. Chronic diarrhea can last for weeks or even months.
Is Chronic Diarrhea A Sign Of Something More Serious?
Sometimes chronic diarrhea is a sign of a more severe illness, such as chronic infections, severe inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), IBS, also known as ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation throughout the colon and rectum. In this case, chronic diarrhea becomes one of many symptoms that develop into painful abdominal cramping and bloody stools if left untreated.
What Are Chronic Diarrhea Symptoms?
You have chronic diarrhea when your digestive system is not working correctly, and you have diarrhea more than four times a day. The standard form of this condition can be pretty uncomfortable.
It often causes stomach cramps, gas pains, discomfort from the gas in your intestine that increases with what you eat – or don’t eat. You may also experience weight loss that leads to an unhealthy appearance and lethargy because you aren’t getting enough nourishment to keep up with your body’s needs.
If chronic diarrhea lasts for a short time following the flu or other intestinal distress, it will usually resolve itself without problems. However, if there has been chronic illness or chronic diarrhea persists, it could indicate serious health concerns such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infections, or pancreatitis. It could also be a symptom of malabsorption syndrome, an inability to absorb food and nutrients properly.
Is Chronic Diarrhea Curable?
The short answer is yes; however, if chronic diarrhea is a symptom of a more severe condition, relieving the symptoms may not be permanent. Chronic diarrhea can be treated if an underlying condition is not responsible for your symptoms.
When Should I See A Doctor About My Chronic Diarrhea?
Suppose your chronic symptoms start suddenly, experiencing blood in your stool, having bloody mucus in your poop, vomiting, fever, weight loss, and fevers without other signs of infection. In that case, it is essential to call your doctor immediately.
A dietitian may also help with any dietary restrictions as chronic diarrhea symptoms may need to be controlled by food. If chronic diarrhea symptoms become regular and chronic treatments fail, it is crucial to see a gastroenterologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
A healthcare provider must evaluate chronic diarrhea symptoms as soon as possible. If your chronic diarrhea persists longer than a month, or if there is blood in your stool, abnormal mucus, weight loss, or fever without signs of infection, you should call your primary care provider or gastroenterologist right away. Chronic diarrhea can be diagnosed by ruling out other conditions that present similar symptoms.
Gastro Florida Can Help You With Diarrhea Diagnosis
Do you need more information and care to help with your diarrhea? Gastro Florida’s team of professionals is here to help. Set up an appointment with us today, servicing several areas throughout Florida.