There are a significant number of causes of diarrhea. It
typically is caused by something that irritates the
gastrointestinal tract. Acute diarrhea is usually related to a
bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. Chronic diarrhea is
usually related to functional disorders such as irritable bowel
syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. Some examples of the many
Viral infections. Norwalk Flu (viral gastroenteritis
caused by norovirus or other viruses), aka "stomach flu", are the
most common causes of acute diarrhea. Many other viruses cause
diarrhea, including rotavirus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex
virus, and viral hepatitis.
Reaction to medicines. Many medications can have the
side effect of diarrhea. Antibiotics that kill the "good bacteria"
are an example. Without the good bacteria, other microbes can grow
out of control and irritate the gut causing diarrhea. Additional
medicines that can cause diarrhea include: blood pressure
medications, cancer drugs, antacids containing magnesium, NSAIDS,
and antiarrhythmia heart medicines.
Parasites. Parasites, worms, etc. can enter the body
through food or water and exposure to others who harbor them, and
settle in the digestive system. Parasites that cause diarrhea
include Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, and
Bacterial infections. Several types of bacteria consumed
through contaminated food (food poisoning) or water can cause
diarrhea and are well known as: traveler's diarrhea, Delhi Belly,
and Montezuma's Revenge. Additionally, not washing your hands after
use of the restroom can allow you to pick up microbes and parasites
from others that cause diarrhea. Common bacterial culprits include
Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia coli (E.
Unsafe drinking water. Besides the possible parasites,
viral and bacterial infections, unsafe drinking water can contain
toxic pollutants and the toxins made by bacteria that cause
Acute or Chronic systemic diseases and Intestinal
diseases. Inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, Crohn's disease,
Celiac disease, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), gastrointestinal
cancers, ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis, Addison's Disease
(pituitary), diabetes, hyperthyroidism, AIDS, etc. are common
causes especially of chronic diarrhea. Acute diarrhea is often
found with severe infections and septicemia.
Food intolerance. Some people are unable to digest food
components such as artificial sweeteners, like Maltitol, etc. and
lactose - the sugar found in milk (lactose intolerance).
Psychosomatic causes. Anxiety, stress, and panic attacks
can create diarrhea.
Alcohol consumption can be a cause in some people, as
well as chronic alcoholism due to various organ damage caused by
Bowel irregularity/constipation can cause diarrhea. If
the bowel is impacted and unable to eliminate the feces, diarrhea
can result as the body's response to try to flush the impaction
Laxative abuse. Some people overuse laxatives which can
result in chronic diarrhea.
There are many causes of diarrhea. These causes can be from food
poisoning, viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Most cases of viral
diarrhea run it's course in a matter of days.