Many people cringe at the mere mention of the term diarrhea. We’ve all experienced it, and we all hate to have it, but when it strikes it can make you a prisoner in your own bathroom. Some causes of diarrhea are obvious – maybe you had some bad food or you have the flu – but some causes of diarrhea are quite surprising and you probably didn’t even know about them. The next time you have to suddenly run to the bathroom, consider that some of these surprising causes of diarrhea could be the culprit; you’ll be able to prevent the next episode if you do.
Surprising causes of diarrhea
We have many moods which reflect the various occasions and situations we encounter, but did you know our mood can be a cause for diarrhea. It’s true! According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine researchers found a strong link between the mind and gut. More specifically, they suggest when serotonin levels are low – due to depression or sadness – your gut will also feel the effects.
When we’re depressed our body releases more cortisol – the stress hormone – which can leak into the gut. Cortisol speeds up bodily functions which can have us running to the bathroom.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, it is best to seek treatment for these conditions; once cortisol levels return to normal you will find your bathroom habits follow suit.
If you’re tossing and turning at night, it won’t just leave you tired. Poor sleeping habits can also contribute to diarrhea, as a 2010 study from the University of Michigan revealed. In their study they found that nurses who worked rotating-shift schedules were more likely to experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Poor sleeping habits affect the body’s circadian rhythm thus confusing your internal clock. Because your body is no longer on a schedule it can turn into the runs.
Furthermore, lack of sleep releases high levels of cortisol which we have explained can cause diarrhea as well. If you are experiencing sleep problems speak with your doctor, and try to reduce stress as much as possible in order to get your bowels regular again.
Working out intensely
If you ever completed a long run or lifted heavier weights than normal, you may have felt the urge to run out of the gym and into a nearby bathroom. A study published in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care revealed when we work out intensely blood is diverted from the gut to our muscles. When this occurs it leads to cramping and diarrhea.
A simple trick to prevent diarrhea while working out is to drink plenty of fluid prior to the exercise. It’s also important to avoid caffeine and high-fat and high-fiber foods up to six hours prior to the workout.
You had previous digestive problems
If you ever had a previous infection – maybe picked up something on vacation or ate some undercooked meat – the symptoms may come back weeks later after you feel better. This is called post-infectious IBS where inflammation left over from the first infection increases gut movement weeks later.
In 50 percent of these patients the problem will resolve on its own, but there are some who will go on to develop IBS or require medication to treat the illness.
As you can see there are many other reasons which can make you run to the bathroom. If you find you’re experiencing diarrhea quite often speak with your doctor right away – if untreated, diarrhea can be quite serious and lead to other health consequences.