What is chronic diarrhoea and how is it caused?

Chronic diarrhoea is when an individual experiences loose stools that last for around four weeks, with three or more loose stools a day.

If you are suffering from this condition, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. This is especially important if you’re experiencing complications which include bloody diarrhoea, fever, dehydration, weight loss, and severe abdominal pain.

There are a number of causes of this condition and the most common include:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS causes abdominal pain and affects changes in bowel habits. This can develop as a result of an infection.
  • Infections - This can be the result of consuming contaminated food or water or unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease - the most common of these are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. They usually occur when the body’s immune system attacks part of the digestive tract.
  • Food allergies - people who are sensitive to gluten and are lactose intolerance may be susceptible to chronic diarrhoea.
  • Endocrine disorders - here, an overactive thyroid can cause this condition along with weight loss. Diabetes can also cause this condition, if the nerve that supplies the digestive tract is injured.
  • Side-effect of certain types of medicine.


Chronic or severe diarrhoea can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. If you’ve become dehydrated as a result of this condition and are unable to drink enough water, you may be given fluids in an IV to replace the fluids or electrolytes while you suffered from diarrhoea.

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