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Approach to Chronic Diarrhea

This lesson will discuss ways to approach chronic diarrhea. This health condition can make it difficult to go to work or have an acceptable quality of life. It can also lead to electrolyte imbalances because nutrients are unable to be absorbed adequately.

Symptoms of diarrhea include loose watery stools with possible frequent, urgent bowel movements.

Some possible reasons for diarrhea include:

Here are some possible reasons for diarrhea.

  1. viruses
  2. bacteria
  3. medications
  4. certain foods and beverages
  5. some health care conditions
  6. Some type of surgeries

Let’s talk a little bit about these:

There are several viruses such as norovirus, GI viruses like the flu, viral hepatitis and herpes virus.

Bacteria that can increase the risk for diarrhea include E. coli, parasites from unclean food or water and Clostridioroides difficile (C. diff) is a bacteria which can form after a dose of antibiotics or a hospitalization.

Several medications can increase the risk of getting diarrhea, these include antibiotics (which can make us more likely to get C. diff), anti-cancer treatment may lead to diarrhea and antacids that contain magnesium can also increase the likelihood of getting it.

There are several foods that may increase the likelihood of diarrhea also:

  • Lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Many people who have a problem digesting lactose will have diarrhea after eating these foods. A large number of people around the world have a problem digesting lactose and many of us who can develop an intolerance as we age.
  • Fructose. This sugar is found naturally in fruits and honey which can contribute to diarrhea. And high fructose corn syrup which is used as a low-cost sweetener is often used in foods and beverages.
  • Artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, erythritol and mannitol are used in sugar-free chewing gum and other sugar-free products. This can often cause diarrhea in some otherwise healthy people.

Several surgeries can increase the risk of diarrhea, those include intestinal surgeries, gastric bypass and gallbladder surgery.

There are also several types of health conditions that may contribute to diarrhea which include irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, microscopic colitis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

You can read about each one of these conditions by clicking on the links with the exception of Microscopic colitis. Here is some information about microscopic colitis.

This is the inflammation of the colon that causes persistent, watery diarrhea and can only be identified by looking at it through a microscope. There are three types: collagenous, lymphocytic and incomplete.

When to seek help:

If someone has severe abdominal or rectal pain, blood or black stools, have diarrhea beyond two days or a temperature above 102 degrees, it is time to seek help. Because at this point it could be very serious.

Here are Some Resources for Diarrhea

Diarrhea – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Chronic Diarrhea: What It Is, Causes & Treatment Options (

Diarrhea: 15 Common Causes and How To Treat It (

Whether all of a sudden or chronic. Whether it is serious or just embarrassing and socially uncomfortable. Diarrhea is a serious topic and it if you have it, it is important to know why and what you can do for it.