What are the Most Common Causes of Bloating and Diarrhea?

N. Madison
N. Madison

Some of the most common causes of bloating and diarrhea include gastrointestinal illnesses caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. A person may also become bloated and suffer from diarrhea because he has a long-term condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Chrohn's disease. In some cases, a person may even suffer from these symptoms because he is lactose intolerant; has eaten a food that proved irritating to his digestive system; or has taken medication that caused him to have abdominal gas and loose bowels.

Eating lots of salt can cause bloating.
Eating lots of salt can cause bloating.

One of the most frequent causes of bloating and diarrhea is an acute gastrointestinal illness. An acute illness is short term, so a person with an acute gastrointestinal illness may be bloated and have loose stool for just a few days. It is also possible for an acute gastrointestinal illness to last for a couple of weeks, however. This type of illness may be caused by a range of viruses, bacteria, or parasites and is often referred to as a stomach virus.

Drinking water can help with bloating.
Drinking water can help with bloating.

Sometimes the cause of bloating and diarrhea is a long-term condition, which is often referred to as chronic. One type of chronic condition a person may develop is called irritable bowel syndrome. It is marked by abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and the passage of gas. Crohn’s disease may cause a person to suffer not only bloating and diarrhea, but also blood in the stool, mouth sores, and intestinal ulcers.

Bananas can help bulk up stool in those with diarrhea.
Bananas can help bulk up stool in those with diarrhea.

An individual may also develop bloating and diarrhea because he is lactose intolerant or taking a medication that causes diarrhea and gas. If an individual is lactose intolerant, he cannot digest lactose, which is a type of natural sugar found in dairy products. When he does consume dairy products, he may develop diarrhea, bloating, and nausea. Additionally, there are some medications that have diarrhea and bloating as a side effect.

Yogurt with live cultures can rebuild intestinal flora after diarrhea.
Yogurt with live cultures can rebuild intestinal flora after diarrhea.

In the case of acute diarrhea, a person may have to let it run its course, as taking medication to stop it could allow the virus, bacterium, or parasite that caused it to build up in the body. Chronic gastrointestinal conditions, however, are often treated with prescription medications and dietary changes. People with lactose intolerance may take supplements that help them digest dairy products or consume special dairy products that do not contain lactose.

Oak bark supplements can be used to treat diarrhea.
Oak bark supplements can be used to treat diarrhea.
Dairy products like cheese can cause bloating and diarrhea a lactose-intolerant person.
Dairy products like cheese can cause bloating and diarrhea a lactose-intolerant person.
Certain medications may cause diarrhea and bloating.
Certain medications may cause diarrhea and bloating.
Bloating and diarrhea can occur as the result of a long-term condition.
Bloating and diarrhea can occur as the result of a long-term condition.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

SteamLouis

@fBoyle-- I don't mean to scare you but my sister was diagnosed with Crohn's disease recently and she had the same symptoms. You should see a specialist about this. You may have to go through many more tests, but it's important to know the cause.

Crohn's disease is a type of immune system disorder that causes inflammation in the bowels. It can also affect the stomach. Bloating and diarrhea are symptoms. The inflammation basically prevents the intestines from functioning normally.

fBoyle

I started experiencing chronic bloating and diarrhea lately. I've been to the doctor but they haven't found anything. I don't have any food allergies so no one knows what the cause is. I'm so miserable.

candyquilt

When I had food poisoning last month, I had nausea, severe bloating and diarrhea. I had to go to the hospital and they diagnosed me with salmonella. I was given an IV with antibiotics in it. My diarrhea did not stop until I was given the IV. I was dehydrated because of all the fluid loss. I don't think I'm going to eat out again.

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