5 Causes of Loose Stools and How to Treat Them

Loose stools can indicate an upset stomach or gastrointestinal issues. Exploring the potential causes and available treatments can help relieve symptoms and promote digestive health. This article will examine five leading contributors to loose stool and evidence-based management approaches.

Food Intolerances

Food intolerances occur when the body struggles to adequately digest certain foods. Common culprits include dairy, grains with gluten, and certain sugars. Symptoms like diarrhoea, bloating, and stomach cramps often emerge 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating trigger foods. Eliminating suspected triggers for 2-4 weeks and slowly reintroducing them can reveal intolerances. Keeping a symptom journal and moderating intake of problem foods can help manage this cause of loose stools long-term.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, affects the digestive tract and causes symptoms like diarrhoea, haematochezia, bloating, and abdominal pain. These conditions involve immune system disruption and chronic inflammation in the bowels. Severe symptoms may warrant corticosteroid or immunosuppressant therapy, but dietary changes like restricting high-fibre foods during flare-ups or following low residue or FODMAP diets may also help manage loose stools.

Medication Side Effects

Certain supplements and pharmaceuticals like iron, metformin, antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, and some antidepressants and blood pressure medications can impact gut motility and absorption functions. This may increase stool output or looseness. It’s important to review all medications and supplements with a doctor or pharmacist regarding digestive side effects. Adjusting dosages or timing may improve tolerance. Probiotic supplements can also protect against the disruption of healthy gut flora during antibiotic use and help firm up stools.

Candida Infection

If you’re wondering what is candida infection, you’re not alone; very few people have heard of this type of infection. Candida albicans is a yeast naturally present in the gut microbiome, mouth, and genital areas that help digestion and nutrient absorption when in balance. However, candida overgrowth in the GI tract can occur after antibiotic use, with a high-sugar diet, excess alcohol, or stress, leading to a variety of symptoms. Common candida symptoms include intestinal issues like gassiness, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, or stools that alternate between loose and difficult to pass. Fatigue, mood changes, recurrent infections, oral thrush, skin issues and headaches may also appear with candida overgrowth syndrome. If you notice any of these symptoms of candida, you will need to arrange a candida test to confirm your suspicions.

Treatment for candida involves addressing predisposing factors and implementing dietary changes like avoiding gluten, alcohol, processed foods and too much sugar. Anti-fungal medications and supplements, as well as probiotic foods, can also get candida issues under control.

Gallbladder Disorders

The gallbladder releases bile to help digest fats, so gallbladder dysfunction impairs fat digestion and absorption, leading to foul-smelling, loose, greasy stools that may float due to high-fat content. Pain in the upper right abdomen may also occur post-meal with gallbladder disorders. Gallstones usually drive disorders like inflammation, insufficient bile, or blockages. Low-fat diets, weight management and medications help control milder symptoms, but surgery to remove gallstones or the gallbladder may be warranted with recurrent painful attacks and digestive issues.

Keeping a symptom diary, modifying suspect foods, treating infections, identifying medication interactions with a pharmacist, and consulting doctors about chronic digestive problems can uncover contributing factors leading to loose stools. Targeted lifestyle interventions and medical therapies based on the root cause then facilitate proper digestion and firmer bowel movements.