Duration Of Current Diarrhea Symptoms

What Causes Chronic Diarrhea?

Chronic diarrhea can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose chronic diarrhea, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "chronic diarrhea" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Bacterial Dysbiosis
  • Intestinal Obstruction
  • Magnesium Toxicity
  • Rapid Stool Passage
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Gluten Sensitivity
  • Intestinal Malabsorption
  • Drug Side-Effects

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
weak appetite
meal-induced pain for over a month
having had a small bowel resection
medium-term abdominal pain
poor bodily coordination
frequent stools
reduced mental clarity
moderate left iliac pain
coffee consumption
swollen cervical nodes
no blood in nipple discharge
significant epigastric pain
... and more than 80 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of chronic diarrhea:
Cause Probability Status
Drug Side-Effects 94% Confirm
Intestinal Malabsorption 30% Unlikely
Epstein-Barr Virus 16% Unlikely
Gluten Sensitivity 4% Ruled out
Bacterial Dysbiosis 0% Ruled out
Intestinal Obstruction 0% Ruled out
Magnesium Toxicity 0% Ruled out
Rapid Stool Passage 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Bowel Movement Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about duration of current diarrhea symptoms:
If you suffer significantly from diarrhea (at least once per week), for how long has this been a problem?
Possible responses:
→ It is not a problem / don't know
→ It started within the last week
→ It started within the last month
→ I've had it for 1 to 3 months
→ I've had it for over 3 months
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no significant diarrhea, recent onset diarrhea, diarrhea for 1-3 months or chronic diarrhea, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Most people with IBS have intermittent bouts of diarrhea.  IBS often reduces the amount of time that stool remains in the intestines, and therefore also the amount of water that is absorbed.  This results in very loose and watery stool, and frequent episodes of diarrhea.  Not having diarrhea as a symptom therefore strongly suggests that IBS may not be the problem.

Rapid Intestinal Transit

Rapid passage (or transit) of stool is one of the most common causes of diarrhea.  Stool that leaves the large intestine too quickly is watery: there is not enough time for fluid and nutrients to be absorbed from the contents of the gastrointestinal tract.

Vitamin B12 Requirement

Intermittent diarrhea can be a sign of B12 deficiency.

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