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What Your Diarrhea May Be Signaling

The loose watery stools that define diarrhea can be concerning and uncomfortable. Usually, however, your case is acute and due to a minor, passing infection or something you ate or drank. If you have diarrhea that lasts for longer than a few days or as long as four weeks or more, you may have a chronic disease that needs evaluation and management by an expert.

People in the greater Houston, Texas, area can trust gastroenterologist Bharat Pothuri, MD of GastroDoxs to diagnose the condition causing your diarrhea and help you manage it, if necessary.

Diarrhea is a symptom, not a disease in itself, that could signal a number of issues. Here are some of the most common ones.

Bacteria and viruses

Often, diarrhea caused by bacteria or viruses is short-lived and goes away on its own within a few days. You may pick up the bacteria from contaminated water or food. Viruses that cause diarrhea include the norovirus and rotavirus. Bacterial infections include salmonella and E. coli.

Even if you suspect a virus or bacteria is causing your diarrhea, if your condition hasn’t resolved (or at least gotten better) within a few days, it’s best to check in with us for an evaluation.

Parasites

Tiny organisms found in contaminated food or water can cause diarrhea. These parasites may be more commonly found in developing countries, so people who travel may be at risk. The most common protozoan parasites that cause diarrhea include Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and E. histolytica.

Several tests, including stool analysis, can help determine if a parasite is to blame for your diarrhea.

Medications

Certain antibiotics, cancer drugs, and magnesium-containing antacids have the potential to trigger diarrhea. Dr. Pothuri reviews your medical history and the medications you’re taking to find out if a resolution of your diarrhea is as easy as switching your prescription.

Food sensitivities

If you’re intolerant to certain foods, such as the lactose in dairy, you may suffer diarrhea around the time you consume them. Keeping a food and symptoms diary can help with finding a possible correlation.

Autoimmune diseases

Some autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, can cause flare-ups of diarrhea. If one of these conditions is suspected, Dr. Pothari will perform a complete workup that may include an endoscopy to evaluate the inside of your digestive tract.

Poor colon function

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can experience diarrhea as a frequent symptom. IBS is diagnosed when other conditions are ruled out. It is typically managed by moderating stress and potentially changing your diet.

Recent abdominal surgery

If you’re on antibiotics following surgery, they can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. The surgery itself can cause diarrhea, too, especially if it involved parts of the digestive tract, including the stomach, intestines, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, or spleen. 

If you’re suffering with diarrhea, consult with Dr. Pothuri here at GastroDoxs. Your diarrhea doesn’t have to occur every day to be of concern – it may come and go. Diarrhea accompanied by blood in the stool, fever, or severe cramping deserves immediate attention, too.

Call the office to set up your appointment or book your visit by requesting a day and time through this website. We can help you find relief from your diarrhea and restore your quality of life.

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