Once diarrhea occurs on a regular basis for more than 2 weeks, it is considered as a chronic case. Diarrhea is described as abnormally loose stools accompanied by increased urgency and frequency. If diarrhea is chronic, it is often due to infection, certain medications or health conditions that affect the absorption and digestion. A doctor should be consulted if there is blood-streaked diarrhea that occurs along with intense abdominal pain and diarrhea that persists for more than 48 hours.
Celiac disease is a chronic digestive condition that causes difficulty in the absorption of nutrients from food. When an individual eats gluten-containing foods, the immune system reacts against it and triggers inflammation in the small intestines.
Gluten is the protein present in rye, wheat, barley and other grains. The symptoms of celiac disease usually depend on the degree of inflammation and can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, floating stools that are foul-smelling and fatty as well as poor growth in children. The indications of malnutrition can also occur. The reduced level of calcium in the body results to osteoporosis while iron deficiency causes anemia. Strict avoidance of all gluten products should be observed.
Lactose intolerance is caused by an inability of the individual to digest the sugar present in milk called lactose due to insufficient amount of the digestive enzyme lactase. The symptoms manifest right after consumption of dairy products and include excess gas, watery diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain.
Lactose intolerance is considered as a life-long hereditary condition. Take note that this is not an allergy to milk which is triggered by the protein present in milk. In most cases, 8-12 oz. of milk per day can be tolerated. The treatment involves limiting the intake of dairy products, using lactose-free milk, using calcium supplements as well as lactase enzyme supplements during the consumption of dairy products.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that affects the large intestines or colon. This condition can be triggered by an abnormal reaction of the immune system to bacteria, food and other substances in the colon which results to inflammation and ulceration.
The bleeding occurs and mucus and pus are produced. Ulcerative colitis can cause abdominal cramps and pain along with chronic diarrhea that can be bloody. Loss of appetite, weight loss and tiredness are common. The blood loss can also lead to anemia. Remember that there is no cure for ulcerative colitis and the exact cause is unknown. In addition, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and antibody therapy are used in managing the condition.
Many individuals can experience diarrhea every now and then, but most are usually minor. In case the diarrhea persists for extended periods, the individual is at risk for dehydration. This would require proper restoration of the fluids lost due to diarrhea.