How to Identify Causes of Diarrhea
Diarrhea is characterized by an increase in frequency of bowel movements, as well as a change in their consistency. Diarrhea is caused when excess water is passed with the stools.
Think about whether food poisoning could have caused your diarrhea. Uncooked meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables may be the culprits.
Rule out infectious agents, like Shigella ("traveler's diarrhea"), E. coli, Salmonella, or Campylobacter jejuni, and intestinal irritants like Staphylococcus aureus.
Understand that parasites can cause diarrhea. The most common are Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba hisolytica.
Evaluate yourself for irritable bowel disease. IBD causes an increase in the wave-like motions in the intestines (peristalsis), so stool is pushed through your intestines before it has a chance to fully form.
Understand that too much of any food or beverage can cause diarrhea, because the intestinal balance of liquid to formed particles is disrupted. For example, if you eat only lettuce, you can expect to have diarrhea.
Be aware that the sorbitol found in many diet foods causes diarrhea.
Consider that your diarrhea may indicate a food allergy or sensitivity. For example, yogurt and whole milk, newly introduced into a diet, can cause diarrhea.
Take an inventory of your other over-the-counter and prescription medications. Diarrhea is a common side effect of many drugs. Overuse of laxatives will also cause diarrhea.
Consider that puppies, hamsters and ferrets harbor bacteria that can cause diarrhea in children.