What’s Causing Your Chronic Diarrhea?

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDApril 30th, 2021

Just about everyone has experienced diarrhea at one point or another. While it can certainly be uncomfortable, it typically goes away as quickly as it comes on and isn’t much of a concern. When you begin experiencing constant diarrhea, however, your concern may increase. When this unpleasant experience lasts for more than two to four weeks, it is classified as chronic diarrhea and may be the sign of an underlying health issue. While you should always consult a doctor for health concerns, you may be able to narrow down your suspicions by exploring some of the common causes of chronic diarrhea.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Your chronic diarrhea could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that affects the large intestine. A common disorder, IBS affects 7-21% of the population. Other symptoms of IBS include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and constipation. Because it’s a chronic condition, IBS doesn’t have a cure, but you can treat your symptoms to live as comfortably and normally as possible.

An Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. Two common types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, both of which are characterized by diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss.

While the exact cause of IBD is unknown, there are some risk factors such as having a family history of IBD, smoking cigarettes, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for an extended period of time.

Changes in Medication

If you recently began taking any new medications, this may be the cause of your unexplained diarrhea. Nearly all medications can cause diarrhea as a side effect, but this doesn’t mean that you should put up with this uncomfortable experience. For meds like antibiotics that are only taken for a short time, you should probably see your diarrhea clear up very soon after stopping the dose. For other long-term types of medications, contact the doctor who prescribed them. The dosage may need to be changed, or the medicine may need to be stopped.

Microscopic Colitis

If you’re older in age, your chronic diarrhea might be caused by a condition called microscopic colitis. This is an inflammation of the large intestine that causes persistent watery diarrhea. Microscopic colitis actually gets its name from the fact that it’s necessary to examine colon tissue under a microscope to identify it, since the tissue may appear normal with a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. Age is the biggest risk factor for this condition, as it is most common in people ages 50 to 70.

Increased Stress

Is there an event coming up that you’re particularly nervous about? Have you been extra stressed at work lately? Believe it or not, stress can be linked to various physical health effects, including diarrhea. The central nervous system is linked to the enteric nervous system which regulates digestive processes. This connection can send stress signals from the brain to the gut, causing it to release hormones that can cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea.

Treating Your Chronic Diarrhea

In order to properly treat your chronic diarrhea, you need to receive an accurate diagnosis from a doctor. Tests and exams will be done to determine exactly what the underlying cause of your uncomfortable condition is and get you on the path to recovery.

For many people, getting to the doctor while dealing with an issue like chronic diarrhea can be difficult. You don’t have to put yourself in an awkward situation just to receive the right medical treatment; you have the option to receive in-home care from DispatchHealth. We have teams of healthcare professionals that can provide you with treatment options that can help you feel well enough to see a specialist for your undiagnosed diarrhea. We’ll also be sure that you are properly hydrated, as dehydration is a serious concern related to diarrhea.


Don’t let your chronic diarrhea go untreated.

Contact DispatchHealth today to discuss your symptoms with our team and start feeling better as quickly as possible.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/disease/chronic_diarrhea.html
  2. https://www.asge.org/home/for-patients/patient-information/understanding-irritable-bowel-syndrome-with-diarrhea-also-known-as-ibs-d
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353315
  4. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/sigtm3094
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000293.htm
  6. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/microscopic-colitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351478
The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

Related Content

DispatchHealth’s APP Fellowship Program Receives Accreditation

DispatchHealth Earns Accreditation with Distinction for Advanced Practice Provider Transition to Practice Fellowship

In sickness & in health

Couple’s Embrace of Home-Centered Healing