Chronic diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea is a bowel problem that lasts for a longer period of time. This stool problem can have many causes. The cause must be known before treatment can be initiated. For this one has to undergo a series of tests.

Chronic diarrhea

Diarrhea can occur due to a disturbance in the digestive system. It is a very loose stool that occurs several times a day. People feel the need to go to the toilet urgently and more than usual. If the stool problem lasts more than fourteen days, it is called chronic diarrhea. It can range from a few weeks to even years. This form of diarrhea can be accompanied by an unpleasant and oppressive feeling in the abdomen. People usually become weakened very quickly because they lose a lot of fluid in a short time. Chronic diarrhea is most common in adults between 35 and 45 years of age.


  • Irritable bowel
  • Food allergy
  • Food intolerance
  • Inflammation of the intestinal mucosa (Crone’s disease)
  • Disturbances in intestinal function
  • Stress
  • Gallbladder, liver or pancreas disorders
  • Side effect of some medications
  • High consumption of sweeteners, caffeinated drinks or sugar


To test

The GP refers the patient to a gastrointestinal specialist. This will carry out a series of tests to determine the cause so that he can initiate the correct treatment.

Breath test

This is a very simple test. You will receive a kit containing a number of tubes. One should drink a mixture of milk powder dissolved in water. After drinking this mixture, you blow into one of the tubes every half hour. The amount of hydrogen in the breath is measured based on the exhaled air. This way, lactose intolerance is confirmed or ruled out. This test takes 3 hours.


You must also submit a number of stool samples. A number of tests are carried out to determine whether it contains no microbes or blood.


A photo is taken of the stomach and intestinal transit. Before taking the photo, you drink a barium porridge to get clearer images during these radiological tests. The small intestine becomes more visible in different directions. Every fifteen minutes a photo is taken of the part of the small intestine where the barium porridge is currently located. To further highlight the small intestine, the abdomen is also regularly pressed with a compressor. Because X-rays do not reveal all abnormalities, an internal examination will follow later.


During a gastroscopy, the doctor looks for irritated areas, ulcers, inflammation or abnormal tissue growth in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum. This is done by means of a device that is inserted into the body. At the tip of this device is a small camera that can view the inside of the wall of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum through a strong light source. The device is inserted through the throat and enters the stomach. The entire route of the stomach as well as the first part of the small intestine is examined. Using small biopsy forceps, some tissue from the small intestinal mucosa is also taken.


The most sensitive method for detecting diseases in the large intestine is colonoscopy. It is a more extensive examination than a gastroscopy because the colon is about 1 meter longer than the small intestine and lies in many bends. The colon must be completely empty to properly inspect all parts of this intestine. A few days before the examination (usually 3) you should no longer eat fruits or vegetables with seeds. Shortly before the examination, you will also receive a colonic irrigation. During the examination, air is blown into the large intestine. This makes it easy to examine all parts carefully. Sometimes pieces of tissue or polyps are also removed for examination. This examination is done, just like gastroscopy, by inserting a camera.

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