What is diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can be distressing and embarrassing, and can really get in the way of leading a normal life

Diarrhoea means frequent, smelly, loose, and even explosive bowel movements – sometimes so unexpectedly that you can’t get to a toilet in time. It can lead to dehydration, loss of sleep, and soreness from repeated wiping. Many of us will have experienced diarrhoea, perhaps as a result of food poisoning or a virus. But for some people, recurrent diarrhoea is a long-term problem.

What causes diarrhoea?

Besides food poisoning or a current infection/virus, a long-term problem with diarrhoea could be caused by:

  • A previous gut infection (gastroenteritis)
  • Food intolerance
  • Prior surgery, such as an ileostomy or colostomy
  • A reaction to radiotherapy (leading to enteropathy, a disease of the intestines)
  • The over-use of laxatives
  • A reaction to certain medications
  • Excess bacteria in the small intestine (called SIBO)
  • Your bile acid not being absorbed properly
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Stress or anxiety
  • An eating disorder

How do we diagnose the causes of diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can be a symptom of a wide range of causes. That’s why it’s vital to understand what’s going on, so you can take greater control of your symptoms and their underlying cause or eliminate them completely. We can run tests such as: