Are You Living with the Pain and Discomfort of Chronic Diarrhea?
While many of you have experienced the uncomfortable symptoms that come with diarrhea at some point in your life, chronic diarrhea – which lasts for months or even years – is a different story. For many, loose or watery stools that continue for months at a time seem to be the main symptom and may be accompanied by cramping, bloating, or nausea.
Are you living with chronic diarrhea? Let’s look at some potential causes of chronic diarrhea and talk about how to live with the condition so it doesn’t take control of your life.
Causes of Chronic Diarrhea
Like any medical condition, it’s important to get to the root cause of your chronic diarrhea. For starters, make an appointment with your doctor or gastroenterologist to discuss your symptoms, including how often they flare up and how long you’ve had them. These items are important to go over because many conditions – from irritable bowel syndrome to Sucrose Intolerance caused by Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID) – can have similar symptoms, including diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Here are some potential common causes for chronic diarrhea:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Bacterial or parasitic infections
- Irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhea (IBS-D)
- Gluten intolerance
- Lactose intolerance
- Sucrose Intolerance
If you think you may have been misdiagnosed with IBS-D, have a discussion with your doctor. If you think Sucrose Intolerance caused by CSID may be to blame, take this quiz* and make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms. At your first appointment, you can ask your doctor about tests that can help diagnose CSID.
Living with Chronic Diarrhea
Now that you’re a bit clearer on what may be causing your ongoing symptoms, here are some ways to live with chronic diarrhea without letting it take control of your life, especially if you are diagnosed with CSID.
- Be prepared! Since chronic diarrhea may flare up unexpectedly, it’s important to prepare yourself for any and all situations. Be proactive, by showing up to events early to scope out the bathroom situation, packing an extra roll of toilet paper in your bag, or scouting out places that likely have restrooms if you get caught in a pickle.
- Set yourself up for a comfortable work setting! While it might be difficult at first, it’s a good idea to have an honest conversation with your supervisor or coworkers about your symptoms. While you may need to step out of a meeting unexpectedly or use the restroom more frequently than your colleagues, it’s important to reiterate that your overall work performance is not affected.
- Adjust your diet! Consider an elimination diet to help you get to the root cause of your symptoms. However, elimination diets, like a low-FODMAP diet, will not work if you have CSID.
- Keep a food journal! Track what particular foods and beverages cause flare-ups. This information can help you get to the root cause of your diarrhea and prepare you for your next doctor’s appointment!
- Discuss treatment options and what medications are available! Talk to your healthcare provider and ask about other ways to find relief.
- Clearly communicate your needs! Chat with loved ones and ask for support. Promoting an honest, open line of communication improves your relationships in all areas of your life.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the causes of your chronic diarrhea, as well as some action steps you can take right away to improve your day-to-day lifestyle.
*This quiz is not a diagnostic.
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