What causes chronic diarrhea?
Chronic diarrhea can be a symptom of other illnesses, particularly those affecting the digestive system. Examples include Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, and infection with the HIV virus. Tropical diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and giardiasis can also cause chronic diarrhea. In the developing world these diseases are often fatal in small children. Some stomach operations may cause chronic diarrhea.
Are there any tests necessary?
In some cases of acute diarrhea, your doctor may perform a stool test to determine what is causing it. Examples of instances where a stool test may be necessary include the following:
- Acute diarrhea following recent return from abroad, particularly from countries where tropical diseases are known to exist.
- Severe diarrhea accompanied by other symptoms such as a temperature and feeling generally unwell.
- Severe diarrhea lasting more than a few days.
- The presence of blood in the stools.
In chronic diarrhea, further diagnostic tests, such as a barium enema, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy may be required. Your doctor will explain these tests to you if you need to have one. These tests may confirm the cause of the diarrhea, which may not necessarily be an infection.