Causes of diarrhoea

What causes frequent diarrhoea?

Everyone is different and people can find it difficult to identify the cause of their
frequent diarrhoea. For some it could be eating habits or food intolerances, for
others it could be due to menstruation or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and some
people react to stress and anxiety brought on by a busy modern lifestyle. It’s good
to understand your body to help manage symptoms accordingly. We offer tips and
advice to help improve your digestive health and well-being. However because frequent or more persistent diarrhoea can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition, you may need to visit your GP.

Get expert advice

The stress factor

The stress and pressure of modern day life can often affect us physically as well as mentally, upsetting the delicate balance of our digestive systems.
Diarrhoea caused by stress related to work or social occasions affects some people. Stressful events such as interviews, examinations or having to talk in public are key culprits. And in some cases, just being very busy, which can itself be stressful, will bring on a bout of diarrhoea

Why stress causes diarrhoea

It’s important to listen to your body. If you’re stressed and getting diarrhoea, it’s telling you to slow down.

What you eat, how you eat

Healthy digestion is about your eating habits, in more ways than one. To keep your body in its natural rhythm, eating a well-balanced and healthy diet can be a great help. But some people experience digestive problems even when they think they’re eating the right things.It might seem obvious but eating quickly can also be a major factor affecting your body’s digestion.

See how what you eat can cause diarrhoea

About food allergies and intolerances

Some people who think they have an allergy may actually just have a food ‘intolerance’, which is very different. With a food allergy, your immune system treats certain foods as a threat to your body. Allergic reactions such as sneezing, rashes and swellings normally occur within minutes of contact with the allergenic food. A food intolerance doesn’t involve the immune system and reactions usually take longer to develop – hours or even days after eating the food. Symptoms of an intolerance are normally stomach-related – diarrhoea, nausea, bloating, and stomach pain. The most common food intolerances are to gluten and lactose. Gluten is a protein found in many types of grain, including wheat, barley and oats. Lactose is a sugar found in milk. If you have a reaction to a particular food, it’s worth finding out if it’s been caused by an allergic reaction or intolerance.

Food allergies guide

Menstruation and diarrhoea

Unfortunately some women can get diarrhoea during their monthly period. It can be an additional discomfort, but luckily there are some key things worth knowing, and some easy ways to help manage it.

Diarrhoea during your period?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In fact, 20% of the population1 experience IBS symptoms at some point in their lives, and it can be prolonged over years. Find out more about the symptoms and how IMODIUM® can relieve the diarrhoea often associated with IBS, previously diagnosed by a doctor.

IBS causes and symptoms

Bacterial or viral infection

Diarrhoea can be the product of bacterial or viral gastroenteritis. It is usually accompanied by symptoms such as a headache or a mild fever, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Bacterial or viral gastroenteritis is a very common ailment, affecting 20% of the population each year. Although most people will experience this type of diarrhoea occasionally, it is less likely to be a cause of frequent diarrhoea. However if it is, you may need to look at diet and food hygiene.

Stomach infection causes

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1 NICE Clinical Practise Guideline. Irritable bowel syndrome in adults: Diagnosis and management of irritable bowel syndrome in primary care. February 2008