Diarrhea is when your bowel movements become loose or watery. The definition of loose motion is passing loose or watery bowel movements 3 or more times in a day (or more frequently than usual).
Diarrhea may have many causes including the following.
- Infection (with a virus, bacteria or parasite). Infectious diarrhea is most commonly caused by viruses passed from person to person, or by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with viruses, bacteria — such as Salmonella, or a parasite — such as Cryptosporidium.
- A change in diet.
- Food intolerance (e.g. lactose intolerance). Some people have diarrhea after eating foods containing fructose (a type of sugar) or artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol.
- Drinking excess alcohol.
- Bowel conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease), coeliac disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Malabsorption (e.g. due to problems with the pancreas).
- Surgery (e.g. when part of the bowel has been removed).
- Some medicines can cause diarrhea as a side effect. Antibiotics are a common example. They can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut, which can lead to diarrhea. Other examples of medicines that can cause diarrhea include some antacids and diabetes tablets.
Loose motion in very young children is due to viral infections. Rota virus infection is common cause. Many other viruses still commonly cause diarrhea in infants and toddlers.
Loose motion refers to watery stools, symptoms, include:
- stomach pain
- Frequent loose, watery stools
- abdominal cramps
- weight loss
- body aches
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
Watery stools is also a symptom of other conditions, some of which can be serious. Other possible symptoms are:
- Blood or pus in the stool
- persistent vomiting
If any of these accompany watery stools, or if the motion is chronic, it may indicate a more serious illness.