What Causes Loose Bowel Movements?


Quick Answer

Loose bowel movements, or diarrhea, may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection and may result from food poisoning, explains Healthline. Additional causes include food intolerances and allergies, adverse reactions to medications, intestinal diseases, functional bowel disorders, and parasites.

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Full Answer

A virus is the most common cause of diarrhea, according to WebMD. Sometimes referred to as "stomach flu," the infection usually lasts for a couple of days. Less common causes are radiation therapy, hyperthyroidism, alcohol and laxative abuse, diabetes, and competitive running. Symptoms of uncomplicated diarrhea include abdominal bloating or cramps; thin, watery or loose stools; and nausea and vomiting. In complicated diarrhea, additional symptoms are weight loss, fever, and blood or mucus in the stool.

Chronic diarrhea lasts for at least four weeks and is usually the result of an intestinal disease or disorder, states Healthline. Chronic diarrhea may be a symptom of more serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. Individuals who experience frequent, severe diarrhea may be at risk for developing an intestinal disease or functional bowel disorder. Diarrhea causes a rapid loss of body fluids and may put sufferers at risk for dehydration, which can be serious if left untreated. Replacing fluids by drinking more water or electrolyte replacement beverages is recommended.

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