What Are the Causes of a Watery Stool?


Watery stool usually appears as diarrhea in many people. This condition causes people to make frequent trips to the restroom to relieve themselves. At other times, people have watery stool not related to diarrhea. These individuals may not go to the restroom multiple times a day. However, their bowel movements are loose and produce few or no solid waste material. The various causes of a watery stool range from common conditions to medical problems that damage the intestinal tract.

A woman holds her stomach in pain.
A woman holds her stomach in pain. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Crohn’s Disease

The American Academy of Family Physicians says that Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulcer growth along the digestive tract, including the large and small intestines. These ulcers make food digestion difficult, leading to stomach cramps and a watery stool. Sometime, this stool may even contain blood. Doctors don’t know the exact cause of Crohn’s disease, however, they know that the condition runs in some families.

A doctor checks a patients hear rate.
A doctor checks a patients hear rate. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease causes a watery stool because people have difficulty digesting products containing gluten. Food containing gluten includes wheat, rye, barley and oats, and the body treats these foods like poison. Watery stool contains many of the vitamins and nutrients the body needs for energy and for cells to function properly, therefore, people with Celiac disease often feel sick, depressed and tired. Their intestinal tract, too, becomes damaged.

Slices of whole grain bread on a cutting board.
Slices of whole grain bread on a cutting board. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

E. Coli

The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines E. coli as a form of food poisoning that causes inflammation in the small intestines. Many people refer to E. coli as travelers' diarrhea because people get this condition from drinking dirty water and eating undercooked or unsanitary foods. This condition causes a watery stool because the body is trying to get rid of toxins and the infections. The stool not only becomes watery, it also often contains blood.

A pitcher of water at an outdoor cafe.
A pitcher of water at an outdoor cafe. (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance occurs when people cannot absorb the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. This condition occurs because the intestines do not produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which digests dairy products. Because the intestine cannot digest milk sugar, it causes a watery stool that has an odd smell and contains a few floating stool particles.

A selection of cheeses on a cutting board.
A selection of cheeses on a cutting board. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Brainerd Diarrhea

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that Brainerd diarrhea causes a sudden occurrence of watery stool that lasts approximately four weeks. Researchers have not isolated a particular bacteria, parasites or viral pathogens that cause this condition. Because the original Brainerd diarrhea cases occurred because of drinking unpasteurized milk, researchers theorize that this rare cause of a watery stool comes from some kind of contaminant.

A woman drinks a glass of unpasteurized milk.
A woman drinks a glass of unpasteurized milk. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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