Diarrhea & Constipation

Advanced Gastroenterology

Gastroenterologists located in Union City, TN & Martin, TN

When diarrhea and constipation persist, you may have a more serious underlying health condition such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Kofi Nuako at Advanced Gastroenterology specializes in accurately diagnosing the cause of your diarrhea and constipation, then providing treatment to help you regain your health. If you have a change in bowel habits, call the office in Union City, Tennessee, or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment.

Diarrhea & Constipation Q & A

What causes diarrhea?

Diarrhea usually goes away within one or two days, so when it persists longer, it may signal an underlying health condition. When your diarrhea stops within two days, an infection usually causes it, but it may even be due to food poisoning, medications, magnesium supplements, or sugar substitutes.

Problems such as the following usually cause diarrhea that lasts a few weeks:

  • Functional bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome
  • Celiac disease
  • Food intolerance or allergy
  • Metabolic conditions, such as a thyroid disorder
  • Antibiotics or other medications
  • Chronic bacterial infections
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

What causes constipation?

Bowel movement frequency varies with each patient, but constipation involves having fewer than three bowel movements a week, especially when you only pass a small amount of hard, dry stool. The most common causes of constipation include:

  • Medications
  • Lack of dietary fiber
  • Drinking too little water
  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
  • Slow movement of stool through the colon
  • Problems with intestinal muscles or nerves
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

What are inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome?

Inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome are two health conditions known for causing diarrhea or constipation. While they sound like similar problems, they’re different conditions:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS refers to a cluster of symptoms including abdominal pain, cramping, gas, and a change in bowel movements. Your IBS may correlate with constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of both. Food, stress, or hormone changes often trigger symptoms.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD includes several disorders that are caused by chronic inflammation. The primary symptoms of the two most common types of IBD -- ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease -- are diarrhea and abdominal pain.

If you have ulcerative colitis, the inflammation is limited to the inner lining of the large intestine. With Crohn’s disease, inflammation can develop anywhere in your gastrointestinal tract, but it’s often present in the small intestine. The inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease also penetrates deep into the walls of the intestine.

How are IBS and IBD diagnosed?

Your medical history and symptom severity and frequency are essential for diagnosing IBS and IBD. In some cases, however, Dr. Nuako may recommend an endoscopic procedure to visually examine the lining of your GI tract, verify your diagnosis, and determine the severity of the problem.