Chronic diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts more than 2 weeks. Diarrhea is a digestive tract disorder that causes sufferers to often defecate with watery or watery stools.
Diarrhea of short duration is usually not a serious health problem. On the other hand, if it persists for a long time and is not treated properly, diarrhea can cause serious health problems and can be fatal.
Causes of Chronic Diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea can be caused by a number of conditions. Therefore, patients are strongly advised to have themselves examined so that the cause can be identified.
Some conditions that can cause chronic diarrhea are:
- Inflammatory bowel disease , namely ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome , which is a collection of symptoms due to disturbances in the digestive tract without any abnormalities in these organs
- Diseases that can interfere with the absorption of food, namely celiac disease and cystic fibrosis
- Chronic pancreatitis , which is inflammation of the pancreas for years
- Infectious diseases, whether caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites
- Lactose intolerance , which is a disturbance in the absorption of sugar in dairy products or the like
- food allergy
- Malabsorption syndrome , namely impaired absorption of nutrients in the small intestine
- Side effects of drugs, such as antibiotics, laxatives, ulcer drugs, and chemotherapy drugs
- Side effects of surgery on the abdomen, namely cholecystectomy
Risk factors for chronic diarrhea
Although it can happen to anyone, there are a number of factors that can increase a person's risk of experiencing chronic diarrhea, namely:
- Have a family history of inflammatory bowel disease
- Travel to areas with high rates of bacterial and parasitic infections
- Have had surgery on the stomach area
- Have you ever had pancreatic disease?
- Suffering from certain diseases, such as diabetes and hypoparathyroidism
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages
Symptoms of Chronic Diarrhea
The main symptoms of chronic diarrhea are loose stools and an increased urge to defecate that lasts for more than 2 weeks. These symptoms may also be accompanied by:
- stomach cramps
- Severe stomach ache
- Weight loss
- Slimy stools or bloody stools
- Easily tired
- pale skin
- Nausea and vomiting
When to see a doctor
Immediately see a doctor if you have diarrhea that has lasted for more than 2 weeks, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as bloody bowel movements, fever and weight loss. Examination needs to be done immediately, considering that chronic diarrhea can cause serious health conditions.
Diagnosis of Chronic Diarrhea
To diagnose chronic diarrhea, the doctor will conduct questions and answers regarding the symptoms experienced by the patient, the medical history of the patient and his family, as well as the medications currently being consumed. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination.
The doctor can also carry out several supporting examinations to confirm the diagnosis, namely:
- Stool and blood tests, to detect the presence of bacteria or parasites that cause diarrhea
- Scanning with X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs , to see the condition of the inside of the abdomen
- Colonoscopy , to detect abnormalities in the digestive tract, such as the intestines or pancreas
Chronic Diarrhea Treatment
Treatment of chronic diarrhea is carried out by addressing the underlying cause, relieving symptoms, and preventing serious complications. Some of the treatment methods that can be done are:
- Administration of antibiotics , to treat chronic diarrhea due to bacterial infection
- Giving antiparasitic drugs, to treat chronic diarrhea due to parasitic infections
- Giving anti-inflammatory drugs, drugs that lower the immune system, or surgery, to treat chronic diarrhea caused by intestinal inflammation
Patients suffering from chronic diarrhea due to impaired absorption of nutrients will be asked to avoid foods that can trigger diarrhea. An example is avoiding animal milk products and their derivatives for people with lactose intolerance.
Meanwhile, in patients with chronic diarrhea caused by celiac disease , doctors will recommend avoiding foods that contain gluten , such as bread.
Meanwhile, to relieve the symptoms of chronic diarrhea, doctors can give the following medicines:
- Bis muth , to relieve diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, or heartburn
- Fiber supplements, to make stools more formed and not runny
- Loperamide , to slow down bowel movements so as to make stools more solid and reduce the frequency of bowel movements
- Octreotide , to treat very severe chronic diarrhea
To help the healing process and prevent the condition from getting worse, patients are advised to do the following:
- Improve diet
- Eat low fiber foods
- Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration
- Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks
- Don't overeat
Complications of Chronic Diarrhea
The main complication that can occur from chronic diarrhea is dehydration because the body loses a lot of fluids. Dehydration that is not treated properly can be fatal to life threatening.
Therefore, sufferers of chronic diarrhea must be vigilant and immediately consult a doctor if the following complaints appear:
- Dark urine
- Often feel thirsty
Chronic Diarrhea Prevention
Chronic diarrhea caused by certain health conditions is difficult to prevent. However, chronic diarrhea due to infectious diseases, especially bacteria or parasites, can be prevented by taking the following steps:
- Maintain sanitary hygiene , both at home and in the surrounding environment
- Clean food ingredients well before cooking
- Cook food, especially meat, until fully cooked
- Washing hands with soap and running water after using the toilet, changing diapers, before eating, or after visiting sick people