Diarrhea And Weight Loss: Causes And Treatments

Almost all of us have faced diarrhea at least once in our life. It’s not a serious condition, and its symptoms are usually short-term. However, a major and troublesome symptom is weight loss. (1)

That’s right! Diarrhea does cause weight loss.

It happens, especially when you have diarrhea for more than 3 days. It’s the loss of excessive water from the body that causes this weight loss. The condition can be due to Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Want to understand the connection between diarrhea and weight loss, side effects, and how the condition gets treated? Read on!

What Is Diarrhea?

The process of discarding waste from your body is normal. But when you start feeling a strong urge to run to the bathroom and notice that you are bearing loose or watery stools, it is called diarrhea. 

This condition is very familiar and gets resolved without intervention. Also, it exists only for 2-3 days. You may feel bloated, nauseous, and have abdominal cramping with diarrhea.

Constant diarrhea for more than three days can result in serious complications like:

Therefore, it is essential to get this situation diagnosed in time. Proper diagnosis addresses the leading cause of diarrhea and helps you alleviate severe medical conditions before time.

What Is The Connection Between Diarrhea and Weight Loss?

Chronic diarrhea for more than weeks can enable you to lose plenty of body fluids. This loss of body fluids may appear on your ranking of weight loss.

Several other symptoms also start appearing with diarrhea, such as nausea and loss of appetite. Such symptoms make it tough to hold food and liquids down in the stomach. This activity decreases your calorie input and can also promote weight loss.

The rate of weight loss depends on how long diarrhea lasts and what is the severity of its symptoms. Yet, any reduced weight due to diarrhea is mainly water weight. That will possibly come back once your appetite and bowel movements get back to normal.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Diarrhea?

The symptoms of diarrhea can vary from mild to severe, which are as follows:

  • Watery or loose stool
  • Bloating or cramps in the abdomen
  • A strong urge to have a bowel movement
  • Nausea or upset stomach

When you have severe diarrhea, you can experience symptoms like:

  • Severe pain
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Chronic diarrhea can have significant complications. When you start showing these symptoms, immediately call your doctor to get medical attention.

Read More: Keto Diarrhea: Can Keto Upset Your Stomach?

What Are The Causes Of Diarrhea?

Several conditions or diseases can cause diarrhea. For instance:

  • Viruses 

Viruses such as Norwalk virus, astrovirus, and viral hepatitis can cause diarrhea. In children, Rotavirus is a typical agent that can cause acute diarrhea. Recently, the virus which spreads coronavirus disease or COVID-19 has also been linked to gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. (2)

  • Bacteria

Constant exposure to contaminated water or food can lead to diarrhea. It is due to the presence of pathogenic bacteria such as E. Coli. 

  • Keto Diet

A drastic change in your diet like what happens with the high fat, low carb diet called keto can make it difficult for your body to process food. This can cause diarrhea as part of what’s called the keto flu symptoms

  • Medications

Antibiotics protect you from infections by destroying harmful bacteria. But they also kill good bacteria. This process can lead to a disturbance in the natural balance of bacteria in the intestines leading to diarrhea. Anti-cancer drugs and antacids with magnesium can also result in diarrhea.

  • Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. Many people who have a problem digesting lactose can have diarrhea after consuming dairy products. With age, this condition increases because the enzymes that digest lactose decline as you get older.

  • Fructose

Fructose is another type of sugar found in fruits and honey. It can cause diarrhea in people who cannot digest it.

  • Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners found in chewing gum and many sugar-free products can cause diarrhea in some healthy people.

  • Surgery

Gall bladder or partial intestine removal surgeries can cause diarrhea too.

  • Digestive Diseases

Diseases such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, and Celiac disease can result in diarrhea. (3,4)

How To Treat Diarrhea and Weight Loss?

Treating diarrhea and related weight loss first requires knowing what is causing you diarrhea. 

To know that, your doctor will ask you about any medical history, review your medications, or conduct a physical exam or tests. 

Possible tests may include blood and stool tests. In a blood count test, the doctor will measure the electrolytes and kidney function to know the severity of diarrhea. In the stool test, your doctor looks for bacteria or parasites that induce diarrhea.

Treating Diarrhea And Weight Loss

Acute diarrhea gets clear on its own in a few days with eating specified medications. Here are some medicines your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antibiotics or Anti-Parasitic

Such medicines help treat diarrhea and recover excess weight loss affected by parasites or bacteria.

  • Therapy To Replace Fluid Intake

Your doctor can also advise you to replace the salts and fluids. In the case of adults, the doctor may recommend drinking electrolyte water, juice, or broth. If drinking juices distresses your belly or incurs vomiting, the doctor might suggest having IV fluids. 

In the case of kids, the doctor may recommend buying an oral rehydration medicine, such as Pedialyte. Pedialyte is prominent to discourage dehydration and replace lost fluids. You can also try making yourself an ORS drink with ORS ingredients.

  • Medicines And Drugs

Medicines like Imodium and Pepto-Bismol balance fluid movement through the intestines and reduce inflammation. They keep bacteria and diarrhea-causing germs from growing in the stomach and intestines.

For treating diarrhea and regaining weight, the doctor may recommend probiotic foods and drinks such as kefir, yogurt, and kombucha. These foods contain good bacteria to boost the growth of similar active bacteria in the digestive system.

When diarrhea is due to severe conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, or Ulcerative colitis, your doctor will operate to treat that condition. He might refer you to a specialized gastroenterologist who can help create a new treatment plan for you.

Wrapping Up

So, does diarrhea cause weight loss? Yes! But even for those on a weight loss journey, it may not be a great thing.

Enduring diarrhea that is going on for weeks can be severe, discomforting, and disruptive to your routine life. It can also lead you to different health problems, such as fatigue, lack of nutrition, and involuntary weight loss.

Whether you have diarrhea due to following a keto diet or for any reason, if it does not resolve on its own, and you keep losing weight, consult a doctor. He will be able to know the root cause of your diarrhea and weight loss. Also, he will suggest the best options for treatment.

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