Causes of Acute Diarrhea
What causes diarrhea?
Acute and persistent diarrhea may have causes that are different from those of chronic diarrhea. In many cases, doctors do not find the cause of diarrhea. Most diarrhea goes away on its own within 4 days, and finding the cause is not necessary.
Acute and persistent diarrhea
- Viral infections. Many viruses cause diarrhea, including norovirus and rotavirus . Viral gastroenteritis is a common cause of acute diarrhea.
- Bacterial infections. Several types of bacteria can enter your body through contaminated food or water and cause diarrhea. Common bacteria that cause diarrhea include Campylobacter , Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella , and Shigella .
- Parasitic infections. Parasites can enter your body through food or water and settle in your digestive tract. Parasites that cause diarrhea include Cryptosporidium enteritis , Entamoeba histolytica , and Giardia lamblia .
Infections lasting more than 2 weeks and less than 4 weeks can cause persistent diarrhea.
Travelers’ diarrhea is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Travelers’ diarrhea is most often acute. However, some parasites cause diarrhea that lasts longer. Travelers’ diarrhea can be a problem for people traveling to developing countries.
Some infections from bacteria and parasites that cause diarrhea do not go away quickly without treatment. Also, after an infection, people may have problems digesting carbohydrates such as lactose or proteins in foods such as cow’s milk, milk products, or soy . Problems digesting carbohydrates or proteins can prolong diarrhea.
Fructose intolerance is a condition that may cause diarrhea after eating foods or drinking liquids that contain fructose, a sugar found in fruits, fruit juices, and honey. Fructose is added to many foods and soft drinks as a sweetener called high-fructose corn syrup.
Digestive tract problems
Digestive tract problems that may cause chronic diarrhea include
- celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- irritable bowel syndrome and other functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders
- small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- ulcerative colitis
You may develop chronic diarrhea after abdominal surgery. Abdominal surgery is an operation on the appendix, gallbladder, large intestine, liver, pancreas, small intestine, spleen, or stomach.
Long-term use of medicines
Medicines that must be taken for a long time may cause chronic diarrhea. Some medicines, such as antibiotics, can change the normal gut flora and increase your chances of infection with Clostridium difficile , a bacterium that can cause chronic diarrhea.
Source: NIDDK (NIH)1
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Acute diarrhoea may be a symptom of infection of the digestive system (gastroenteritis) which is usually caused by a virus, but sometimes is caused by bacteria or parasites. It may also occur in association with other communicable diseases such as measles and malaria.
Source: Queensland Health2
Causes List for Acute Diarrhea
List of possible causes of Acute Diarrhea or similar symptoms may include:3
- Cryptosporidiosis (acute diarrhoea)
- Gastroenteritis (acute diarrhea)
- Nontyphoidal Salmonellosis (acute diarrhea)
- Salmonella (acute diarrhea)
- Shigellosis (Acute diarrhoea)
See also causes of similar conditions:
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- Source: NIDDK (NIH): niddk.nih.gov/ health-information/ digestive-diseases/ diarrhea/ all-content
- Source: Queensland Health: conditions.health.qld.gov.au/ HealthCondition/ condition/ 14/ 33/ 39/ diarrhoea-in-young-children
- Source: Algorithmically Generated List
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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.