Illustration - diarrhea

Diarrhoea and loose stools

Diarrhoea is defined as having more than three thin and watery bowel movements per day. There can be several reasons for experiencing diarrhoea. One reason might be an overly active bowel, which can sometimes affect individuals with IBS.

This is usually due to heightened reflexes, and the need for a toilet can become quite urgent. Another cause could be a temporary infection, such as during a stomach flu or after a course of antibiotics. Since the passage of food through the body is rapid during diarrhoea, the intestines may not have enough time to absorb nutrients properly.

In cases of prolonged issues, there may be a risk of nutritional deficiencies, and maintaining weight can also be challenging. An indication that the body is starting to absorb energy and nutrients again is weight gain. If there are significant fluid losses, it is crucial to replace fluids and salts to prevent dehydration, especially in the case of children.

Diarrhoea is common in IBS

The diarrhoea-predominant type of IBS is known as IBS-D. For a majority of those with a fast and unsettled stomach, symptoms are often worse in the morning. Perhaps you can relate to needing to use the toilet several times in the morning before work or school. Or do you skip breakfast to avoid using the toilet before lunch? Maybe you even have a mental map of all the public toilets in the entire town.

You are not alone!

Many people occasionally have an urgent need for a toilet. There are numerous dietary factors that can cause the stomach to work faster. Coffee and alcohol are two examples, but even chewing gum and effervescent tablets with sweeteners can cause diarrhoea, as well as dried fruits like apricots and plums. Sometimes, those with a fast and unsettled stomach may experience an urgent need to use the toilet right in the middle of a meal. This can happen when the reflexes in the stomach overreact to the food entering, triggering an excessive response. It can also occur if you eat a too-large portion or eat very quickly.

Other causes of diarrhoea

It is not uncommon to experience diarrhoea in connection with a stomach infection during stays abroad. Perhaps the stomach does not return to its normal state afterwards and remains loose for a long period. In such cases, it is likely that the balance of intestinal bacteria has been disrupted. Diarrhoea is also common during a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics can disrupt the bacterial flora in the intestine, making it easier for harmful bacteria to take over. To restore the intestinal flora, probiotics can be taken simultaneously with antibiotics and for a period afterwards. Probiotic supplements containing the bacterial strain Saccharomyces boulardii are particularly effective in cases of diarrhoea.

Some women may also experience loose stools during menstruation. The exact cause is unclear, but it is likely related to hormones. Progesterone levels are low during menstruation, and progesterone can cause constipation, for example, during pregnancy when levels are high. Therefore, diarrhoea may occur when progesterone levels are low.

FODMAP helps with diarrhoea and loose stools

The low FODMAP diet effectively reduces symptoms of IBS, even for those experiencing diarrhoea. It’s important to implement the treatment correctly and also consider overall lifestyle factors, such as stress. The Belly Balance treatment combines the the low FODMAP diet with stress management and helps over 75% of all individuals with IBS. Most people with diarrhoea experience relief relatively quickly.

Do you want to know more?

Curious about more information on faeces, and fecal transplantation, or perhaps you’re on the opposite end – constipated? At Belly Balance we know that your stool says a lot about you and how you’re feeling. We often talk openly about it, even when others may feel uncomfortable because we understand that it occupies parts of everyone’s daily life. For some, it significantly influences time, energy, and daily routines. It’s essential that those with IBS have the opportunity for treatment to alleviate their symptoms. By discussing it openly, more people become aware that help is available.

Sofia Antonsson 

Dietitian, Belly Balance

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