Diarrhea is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems. It is usually accompanied by certain disorders, although it can happen occasionally and disappear on its own. However, there are people who suffer from chronic diarrhea. This type of diarrhea may be a warning sign of underlying serious condition that must be identified by a medical professional. On the other hand, some people suffer from diarrhea after eating.
What causes this type of diarrhea?
It takes about 12 hours to two days for food to travel from mouth to the anus. The length of time varies from person to person, depending on diet, lifestyle, and health condition. Some people feel the urge to move their bowel soon after eating. This is probably due to activated peristalsis.
Defecation is controlled by nerve reflexes, which are activated when the lower parts of the colon are stretched due to the accumulation of fecal matter. These nerves send impulses that in turn cause contractions of the colon. That is why you feel the urge to move your bowels. This happens in varying frequencies. Some people feel the urge to pass stools once a day, while others, every two days.
A person can suffer from diarrhea due to many causes. Usually, diarrhea is due to irritation of the nerves or lining of the colon. This irritation causes the bowels to be highly sensitive. The result is secretion of water in the colon and loose bowel movement. Water comes from the body. This results in rapid loss of water and electrolytes, which is more worrisome than diarrhea itself.
Doctors believe that diarrhea after eating can be due to irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. The common manifestation of IBS is alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation, but there are cases of IBS that are dominated by diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome is misunderstood by doctors. There is no known cause for IBS. What is known is that 1 in 5 individuals may be suffering from it. IBS may be due to diet or lifestyle or due to an unidentified infection. IBS treatment involves a combination of diet and lifestyle modifications. Medications may be necessary to treat constipation or diarrhea.
IBS is not the lone culprit of diarrhea after meals. Gastroenteritis can cause this problem too. Gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. The said pathogens can cause inflammation of the digestive tract. The presence of infection can be detected through stool culture examination. The microbes that cause gastroenteritis enter the GI tract through ingestion of contaminated food prepared through unsanitary methods.
Diarrhea due to gastroenteritis is often more serious than the one caused by IBS. As a result, monitoring of the condition is important. Immediate treatment includes hydration and adequate rest. Lost electrolytes must be replenished. Antibiotics or anti-parasitic medication are prescribed depending on the nature of the disease.
If you are not suffering from IBS or gastroenteritis, it is reasonable to look for other causes. Diarrhea after meals can be due to autoimmune diseases. Examples are Crohn’s disease and colitis. These conditions are characterized by inflammation of the whole GI tract. The inflammation can be serious, involving the lining from the esophagus to the rectum.
Finding the cause of diarrhea is important for appropriate treatment. Chronic diarrhea should not be ignored. Go to your doctor for appropriate medical help.