A person who has loose, watery stools more than three times a day for longer than two weeks is experiencing chronic diarrhea. Other symptoms include cramping, nausea, bloating and an urgent need to have a bowel movement.
Chronic diarrhea has a multitude of causes, including infections from parasites, viruses and bacteria. Pancreatic or intestinal disorders, intolerance to certain foods or reaction to medicine can also lead to the condition.
Determining the cause of chronic diarrhea can be difficult. The doctor will order tests based on your symptoms and history. Blood and stool analyses are common, but special tests may be required to diagnose certain parasites. If these initial tests do not reveal the cause of the diarrhea, further examination, including X-rays and endoscopy, may be necessary.
It is important to find the cause of chronic diarrhea since it can cause dehydration and can be a symptom of a more serious condition.