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6 Possible Causes of Diarrhea and How to Manage Them

6 Possible Causes of Diarrhea and How to Manage Them

Every bowel pattern is unique. But if you experience more frequent bowel movements than usual, such as more than thrice a day, then you might have diarrhea. What are the possible causes of diarrhea?

Diarrhea is defined as recurring bowel movements with loose, watery stools. It will most likely go away after a few days without treatment.

However, if diarrhea persists for more than a week or so, then it might be a symptom of a more serious condition.

This is why knowing the possible causes of diarrhea will help you better manage the condition. This can also help you take the right steps to ease its symptoms.

Who is at risk for diarrhea?

While the possible causes of diarrhea affects people of all ages, those with no access to clean drinking water are more at risk.

Traveler’s diarrhea can also affect those who find themselves in places with no potable drinking water.

Those who have sensitive gastrointestinal tracts are also at risk. If you have other underlying digestive conditions, you might be at risk for diarrhea.

The Possible Causes of Diarrhea

The possible causes of diarrhea are influenced by different factors. This includes lifestyle habits, medication, infection, food intolerance, and other conditions.

Here are some possible causes of diarrhea you should be aware of:

Medication Side Effects

One of the possible causes of diarrhea are medications. More specifically, those that can trigger loose bowel movements. Some examples are antibiotics and antacids.

In some instances, antibiotics get rid of both the bad and good bacteria, disrupting the balance of microbes inside the digestive tract.

Meanwhile, antacids contain magnesium, which is a common chemical used in laxatives.

Certain Types of Infection

Bacterial infection

Bacteria found in contaminated food and water is one of the main common causes of diarrhea. Some examples of diarrhea-causing bacteria are: Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, and Shigella.

Parasitic infections

Parasites in polluted water or unsanitary food can cause diarrhea. Cryptosporidium enteritis, Entamoeba histolytica, and Giardia lamblia are parasites that can trigger diarrhea.

Viral infections

Norovirus and Rotavirus are some of the many viruses that can be possible causes of diarrhea. Chronic illness, such as Viral Gastroenteritis, can trigger acute diarrhea.

Food intolerances

Lactose intolerance

The inability to digest milk and other dairy products is called lactose intolerance. People with this condition often suffer from diarrhea, oftentimes moments after consuming any kind of dairy.

Fructose intolerance

Fructose is a type of sugar found in fruits and honey. It is commonly used in beverages, such as carbonated drinks as a sweetener.

A person who has difficulty digesting fructose is at greater risk for diarrhea.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, like orbitol and xylitol, found in chewing gum and sugar-free candies can lead to diarrhea.


Chronic diarrhea may sometimes occur after abdominal or gallbladder removal surgeries.

Underlying digestive problems

Certain digestive illnesses might cause diarrhea. Examples of these are Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, microscopic colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


In some cases, diarrhea can also happen during menstruation. More studies are needed to confirm why this happens. But it is most likely due to the release of prostaglandins. These hormones trigger uterine contractions.

They can also trigger gastrointestinal contractions, causing diarrhea.

What’s more, they can also slow down food absorption in the intestine. This speeds up the passage of food through the colon.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be prevented and treated with remedies and lifestyle changes. To help you manage diarrhea, here are some tips to try:

  • Avoid foods that can trigger your allergies. Certain foods, like dairy, can trigger allergies and cause diarrhea.
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. When you have diarrhea, your body is being depleted of water. That is why drinking more fluids is important.
  • Eat low-fiber foods, in small amounts. Excessive consumption of fiber-enriched foods is one of the possible causes of diarrhea.
  • To bounce back to your normal bowel routine, only eat small amounts of low-fiber food like white rice, crackers, and eggs. These might help bulk up stool and help your digestive tract recover.
  • Take over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications as needed (e.g. travel).
  • If diarrhea worsens and can’t be managed at home, seek medical attention. This is important to prevent dehydration.
  • Wash your hands. Practicing proper hand washing before eating or preparing meals can help prevent diarrhea.
  • Drink clean, drinking water. When you are out and thirsty, always look for places where you can buy or drink clean and consumable water. If you are going somewhere with no potable water, make sure to bring your own water supply.

Key takeaways

Diarrhea can be experienced by anyone, anytime, and anywhere. Being well-informed about the possible causes of diarrhea will be a great help to control the situation.

If you think that you or another person might be suffering from a more serious type of diarrhea, do not hesitate and seek medical attention.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao Updated May 25
Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, M.D.