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What are the causes of diarrhea?

Most diarrhea episodes tend to pass within a few days, and their cause may never be known. With infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses, the invading germs cause the lining of the intestines to become inflamed. There are several conditions that may increase your risk of chronic diarrhea (that starts slowly and lasts more than 14 days) such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis and irritable bowel syndrome. Hormonal conditions such as an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) and diabetes, and various medications including some antibiotics, antacids, anti-HIV and anti-cancer drugs are also known to cause chronic diarrhea.

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About this article

Author: Karen McCloskey BHSc
First answered: 23 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Votes: 638 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Diarrhea


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