Diarrhea is referred to the frequent loose bowel movements due to abnormal condition of the intestines. This is not a disease, rather, it is a symptom of a digestive disorder. There are two forms of diarrhea: one is acute diarrhea, and the other one is chronic diarrhea. In general, acute diarrhea subsides after a few days or a week, but chronic diarrhea continues to bother the patient for several weeks, months, and sometimes, years. For this reason, chronic diarrhea is often referred to as constant diarrhea or persistent diarrhea.
Causes of Constant Diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea indicates that a problem exists in the digestive tract. Its main causes are mentioned below along with the identifiable symptoms.
Viral Gastroenteritis: This is a viral infection and is also referred to as stomach flu. It occurs after consumption of contaminated food or drinks. Spoiled foods contain harmful virus like rotavirus that attacks the digestive tract. As a result, the patient suffers diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle ache, etc. Small children and infants readily get affected by this viral infection.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are two of its common forms. It develops when the immune system of the body attacks the digestive tract. In both the conditions, constant diarrhea and stomach pain come together. Other symptoms that may be observed are low-grade fever, fatigue, weakness, etc.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Those who have irritable bowel syndrome get recurrent diarrhea. This intestinal problem leads to change in bowel movements, which in turn, triggers alternate episodes of diarrhea and constipation. As it happens due to irregular contractions of the intestines, these patients often experience mild to severe abdominal cramps as well. The actual reason behind the abnormal functioning of bowel is not clearly known but it has been found that mental stress tends to aggravate it further.
Side Effects of Medications: Regular use of medicines like antibiotics, some herbal and dietary supplements for a long time, etc., can have an adverse effect on the digestion process. This is because these medicines disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria present in the digestive system. In this condition, those bacteria which are helpful to us fail to control the growth of the disease causing bacteria and the pathogens induce diarrhea.
Other Causes: Some people are unable to digest lactose present in milk due to lack of digestive enzyme, lactase in their body. This congenital disease is referred to as lactose intolerance. These patients get diarrhea every time they eat dairy products. Infectious diseases by protozoan parasites like giardiasis and amoebiasis, liver disease, gallbladder disease, diabetes, alcoholism, malnutrition are some of the other causes of chronic form of diarrhea.
Treatment for Constant Diarrhea
There is a high chance of severe dehydration as a large amount of fluid and electrolytes are lost because of constant diarrhea. It can pose a serious threat to life particularly for small children and the elderly. Therefore, you cannot afford to neglect the problem, so visit a doctor as soon as possible. Doctors conduct tests like X-ray of the intestines and colonoscopy to identify the exact cause. Specific treatment is then carried out which is based upon the underlying problem. They prescribe anti-diarrheal drug to control the watery bowel movements. Antibiotics are prescribed if there are signs of bacterial infection. When the condition is severe, solid food must be avoided as long as the stomach does not settle. During this time, drink plenty of water to replenish the lost fluid. Thus you can prevent dehydration of the body. Once the frequency of bowel movements decreases, doctors suggest BRAT diet for diarrhea. The diet includes bananas, boiled white rice, applesauce, and dry white toast. They also advise these patients to take adequate amount of rest and remain stress free.
If you are suffering from diarrhea persistently, you must maintain good personal hygiene so that no harmful substance enters the digestive system. Wash your hands properly with soap and water before eating, or after handling of foods like raw meat. Wash off the dishes thoroughly with soap and water soon after eating. Do not eat food that are spoiled or are kept in the fridge for a long time.