Diarrhea & Weight Loss


Diarrhea occurs when your stool is loose and watery. Chronic diarrhea, lasting more than four weeks, leads to unintentional weight loss. Diarrhea signal some other problem inside your body. A single bout of diarrhea may indicate temporary gastrointestinal issues, while other cases of diarrhea accompanied by weight loss indicate that you may be suffering from a serious health condition.

Viral Gastroenteritis

This condition, commonly called the stomach flu, causes diarrhea and weight loss. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says different viruses cause stomach flu. These viruses develop within four to 48 hours from exposure to contaminated food or water. Children, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems are susceptible to this condition. Stomach flu goes away without medical intervention, but remaining hydrated and eating light meals keeps your condition from getting serious.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, an inherited disorder, occurs when you are sensitive to the wheat and grain component gluten. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Alerts says the protein in gluten compromises the villi in the intestines ability to absorb nutrients in food. Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, anemia and vitamin deficiencies. To prevent symptoms of celiac disease, you have to eat a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life, avoiding foods, beverages and medicines containing wheat, barley, rye and oats. You have to learn to read labels to find these ingredients.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is the body’s inability to digest the sugar in milk and other dairy products. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says this condition occurs because the small intestine does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase. This condition develops as early as two years old. Diarrhea and weight loss correlate to other symptoms such as malnutrition, floating or foul-smelling stool, abdominal cramps and gas. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says people who are lactose intolerant avoid most dairy products but may be able to consume easily-digestible milk products like yogurts, buttermilk, goat’s milk, soy milk and rice milk.

Ulcerative Colitis

This condition affects the large intestine and rectum and causes unintentional weight loss and diarrhea. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says ulcerative colitis starts in the rectal area and enters the large intestine. The walls of the intestine and rectum continue swelling, causing a buildup of scar tissue. Symptoms start slowly or develop suddenly. Corticosteroids ease pain and reduce inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis. Doctors recommend surgery to remove sections of the colon in severe cases.


Prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. Take slow sips of fluids and avoid caffeinated beverages. Consume yogurts containing active cultures to shorten or lessen the severity of diarrhea. Drink products that replace electrolytes and minerals. For temporary cases of diarrhea, eat rice, dry toast and bananas. Don’t take over the counter anti-diarrhea medications unless instructed by your doctor.

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