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IBD not the only cause of serious diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea is defined as the passage of more than 200 grams of stool per day for more than three weeks. The condition may result from decreased absorption of gastrointestinal contents or increased fluid secretion into the bowel.

Although chronic diarrhea can have many causes, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, dietary influences, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are frequently present.

Possible underlying causes of chronic diarrhea can be found in the following categories:

Dietary factors -- excessive use of caffeine (coffee, cola drinks, some pastries, foods that contain sorbitol and other artificial sweeteners).

Prescription drugs and laxatives -- alcohol, magnesium-containing indigestion aids, antibiotics, diuretics (loop), propranolol (Inderal), quinidine, theophyleine, thyroxine.

Infections -- Amebiasis, giardiasis, opportunistic infections associated with overuse of antibiotics, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis.

Metabolic disorders -- Addison's disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism.

Tumors -- Colon cancer, endocrine tumors, intestinal lymphoma, cancer of the thyroid, pancreatic cancer, villous adenoma.

Emotional disturbance and anxiety attacks which often cause temporary diarrhea, do not qualify for inclusion in chronic states of diarrhea.

Other symptoms, such as weight loss, heighten the possibility of colon problems caused by thyroid disorders or malabsorption of food. Arthritis associated with diarrhea, suggests inflammatory bowel disease or Whipple's disease (excessive deposits of fat in the intestinal lymphatic tissue).

Fever and chronic diarrhea may develop from ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, amebiasis (a protozoan infection) lymphoma, and tuberculosis.

If diarrhea persists after excessive testing, referral to a gastroenterologist is suggested. A full colonscopy with several biopsies may be necessary to identify the underlying problem.
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Title Annotation:irritable bowel disease
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1994
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