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Loose Motions
Loose Motions
Types of diarrhoea         

There are at least four types of diarrhea: secretory diarrhea, osmotic diarrhea, motility-related diarrhea, and inflammatory diarrhea.

Secretory diarrhoea

Secretory diarrhoeameans that there is an increase in the active secretion, or there is an inhibition of absorption. There is little to no structural damage. The most common cause of this type of diarrhoeais a cholera toxin that stimulates the secretion of anions, especially chloride ions. Therefore, to maintain a charge balance in the lumen, sodium is carried with it, along with water.

Osmotic diarrhoea

Osmotic diarrhoeaoccurs when there is a loss of water due to a heavy osmotic load. This can occur when there is maldigestion (e.g., pancreatic disease or Coeliac disease), where the nutrients are left in the lumen, which pulls water into the lumen.

Motility-related diarrhoea

Motility-related diarrhoea occurs when the motility of the gastrointestinal tract is abnormally high. If the food moves too quickly, there is not enough time for sufficient nutrients and water to be absorbed. This can be due to a vagotomy or diabetic neuropathy, or a complication of menstruation.

Inflammatory diarrhoea

Inflammatory diarrhoea occurs when there is damage to the mucosal lining or brush border, which leads to a passive loss of protein-rich fluids, and a decreased ability to absorb these lost fluids. Features of all three of the other types of diarrhoeacan be found in this type of diarrhea. It can be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, parasitic infections, or autoimmune problems such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Malabsorption

These tend to be more severe medical illnesses. Malabsorption is the inability to absorb food, mostly in the small bowel but also due to the pancreas.
Causes include celiac disease (intolerance to gluten, a wheat product), lactose intolerance (Intolerance to milk sugar, common in non-Europeans), fructose malabsorption, pernicious anemia (impaired bowel function due to the inability to absorb vitamin B12), loss of pancreatic secretions (may be due to cystic fibrosis or pancreatitis), short bowel syndrome (surgically removed bowel), radiation fibrosis (usually following cancer treatment), and other drugs such as chemotherapy.

Inflammatory bowel disease

The two overlapping types here are of unknown origin:

  • Ulcerative colitis is marked by chronic bloody diarrhoeaand inflammation mostly affects the distal colon near the rectum.
  • Crohn's disease typically affects fairly well demarcated segments of bowel in the colon and often affects the end of the small bowel.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Another possible cause of diarrhoeais Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Symptoms defining IBS: abdominal discomfort or pain relieved by defecation and unusual stool (diarrhoeaor constipation or both) or stool frequency, for at least 3 days a week over the previous 3 months. IBS symptoms can be present in patients with a variety of conditions including food allergies, infective diarrhea, celiac, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Treating the underlying condition (celiac disease, food allergy, bacterial dysbiosis, etc.) usually resolves the diarrhea. IBS can cause visceral hypersensitivity. While there is no direct treatment for undifferentiated IBS, symptoms, including diarrhea, can sometimes be managed through a combination of dietary changes, soluble fiber supplements, and/or medications.

Other important causes
  • Ischemic bowel disease. This usually affects older people and can be due to blocked arteries.
  • Bowel cancer: Some (but not all) bowel cancers may have associated diarrhea. Cancer of the large intestine is most common.
  • Hormone-secreting tumors: some hormones (e.g. serotonin) can cause diarrhoeaif excreted in excess (usually from a tumor).
  • Bile salt diarrhea: excess bile salt entering the colon rather than being absorbed at the end of the small intestine can cause diarrhea, typically shortly after eating. Bile salt diarrhoeais a possible side-effect of gallbladder removal. It is usually treated with cholestyramine, a bile acid sequestrant

 

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