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Diarrhoea & Constipation


Both constipation and diarrhea are common symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Each type of IBD affects a different part of the GI tract. Crohn’s can happen anywhere in your GI tract, but it’s most common near the end of your small intestine, where it transitions into the large intestine (colon).

Diarrhoea can be of sudden onset and lasting for less than four
weeks (acute) or persistent (chronic)


  • Infection of the gut is the commonest cause.
  • Gastroenteritis. Many bacteria, viruses and other germs can cause
    diarrhoea. Sometimes the germs come from infected food (food
    poisoning). Infected water is a cause in some countries.
  • Examples of infectious diarrhoea include norovirus, Clostridium
    difficile, Escherichiacoli, campylobacter, salmonella and cryptosporidium.
  • Side-effects from some medicines
  • Anxiety
  • Gut disorders that cause persistent (chronic) diarrhoea may be
    mistaken for acute diarrhoea when they first begin – for example,
    diarrhoea caused by ulcerative colitis
  • Loose watery foul smelling stools.
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Sometimes, fever, headache, bodyache
  • Vomiting

Seek medical advice in any of the following situations

  • If you have blood in your diarrhoea or vomit.
  • If you have severe abdominal pain.
  • A persisting high temperature (fever).
  • Elderly or have an underlying health problem such as diabetes, epilepsy,
    inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease.
  • Weakened immune system because of, for example, chemotherapy
    treatment, long-term steroid treatment, HIV infection.
  • If you are pregnant.

Chronic constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools
that persists for several weeks or longer.

Constipation is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements a

Treatment for chronic constipation depends in part on the underlying cause.
However, in some cases, a cause is never found.

Signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include:

  • Passing fewer than three stools a week
  • Having lumpy or hard stools
  • Straining to have bowel movements
  • Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
  • Feeling as though you can’t completely empty the stool from your rectum
  • Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your
    abdomen and using a finger to remove stool from your rectum

Factors that may increase your risk of chronic constipation include:

  • Being an older adult
  • Being a woman
  • Being dehydrated
  • Eating a diet thats low in fiber
  • Getting little or no physical activity
  • Taking certain medications, including sedatives, opioid pain medications, some
    antidepressants or medications to lower blood pressure
  • Having a mental health condition such as depression or an eating disorder