I’m Pooped! Because I Can’t Stop Pooping!
How Chronic Diarrhea Causes Fatigue and What to Do About It
By Dr. Edward Barbarito
Chronic diarrhea is a condition affecting millions of Americans every year. While diarrhea is a common cause for physician visits and may have other associated symptoms including cramping abdominal pain, gas, and bloating, there is one symptom that is oftentimes overlooked: fatigue. For some, chronic diarrhea and fatigue can go hand-in-hand. And if you’re feeling “crappy,” chronic diarrhea might be the culprit for your fatigue.
Urgent diarrhea after meals may be the most commonly occurring pattern of chronic diarrhea. This oftentimes is caused by a food intolerance or, more specifically, a digestive enzyme deficiency. Inadequate breakdown of food leaves poorly absorbable food particles in the intestinal tract. These food particles then draw excessive amounts of fluid into the intestinal tract, resulting in significant water, electrolyte, and nutrient losses. Severe fatigue, lethargy, and muscle weakness can be the unfortunate end result.
Why Are Chronic Diarrhea and Fatigue Related?
There are a few different reasons why chronic diarrhea and fatigue can be experienced together. Frequent, loose bowel movements lead to electrolyte and essential salt depletion. Loss of sodium, potassium, and magnesium can then cause muscle weakness. Serum blood sugar, the most important energy source for brain function, might be diminished too, leading to mental clouding or brain fog.
Finally, over time, chronic diarrhea with frequent watery bowel movements can lead to generalized muscle weakness. Slowly, but progressively, the body may become depleted of many important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Will I Experience Chronic Diarrhea and Fatigue If I Have CSID?
As mentioned above, a common cause of post-meal diarrhea is food intolerance caused by enzyme deficiency. Perhaps the most well-known is lactose intolerance, in which the simple milk sugar lactose is poorly digested, leading to post-meal diarrhea and its associated complaints.
Another common cause of food intolerance is being more frequently recognized as a cause for concern. Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID), commonly known as Sucrose Intolerance, prohibits someone from properly digesting sucrose. This condition leads to urgent diarrhea after meals accompanied by associated gas, cramping, abdominal pain, and fatigue.
CSID should be considered in those patients with frequent, lifelong, and typically post-meal diarrhea symptoms occurring without another obvious cause. Testing for CSID is of utmost importance in these individuals since sucrose and isomaltose are commonly occurring food sugars, but not easily identifiable triggers.
Fortunately, physicians get help diagnosing those affected by CSID through a simple breath test that can be administered at home.
To learn more about CSID, its causes, symptoms, and treatment, visit www.sucroseintolerance.com.
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