What Causes Osmotic Diarrhea? Symptoms, Diet And Home Remedies

Diarrhea, the frequent passage of loose or water stools, is a common ailment that has been experienced by most people at some time or the other. This problem can be classified into four types: osmotic, exudative, secretory and rapid intestinal transit diarrhea. When loose stools occur because of an excess amount of water in the bowels, it is known as osmotic diarrhea.

There are several processes that occur in your intestines during digestion, which facilitate the absorption of nutrients as well as water. However, at times, certain health conditions can interfere with the process of water absorption, further leading to osmotic diarrhea.

Causes Of Osmotic Diarrhea

While infectious diarrhea occurs due to bacterial, viral or amoebic disruptions in the digestive tract, osmotic diarrhea is caused by the gastrointestinal tract’s inability to absorb foods that have been ingested.

Given below are some of the most common osmotic diarrhea causes.

  • Celiac disease (intolerance to wheat and protein).
  • Pancreatic conditions
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Fat mal-absorption
  • Dumping syndrome, especially after a bariatric weight loss surgery.
  • Poor digestion
  • Use of certain drugs, like antibiotics and blood pressure medication.
  • Excessive intake of sugar, sugar substitutes or salt.
  • Taking laxatives that contain sodium phosphate, magnesium sulfate & magnesium phosphate.
  • Undergoing chemotherapy or high dose radiation therapy.
  • Surgical removal of the gall bladder.

 Osmotic Diarrhea Symptoms

There are a few other symptoms of osmotic diarrhea you may experience, in addition to lose and watery stools. Given below are some of the other common symptoms of this condition.

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Cramping and bloating
  • Nausea

It is essential to seek emergency medical attention in case you notice the more severe symptoms of osmotic diarrhea, such as:

  • Pus or blood in the stool
  • Tarry stools
  • High fever
  • Dry skin or lips

Diet And Home Remedies For Osmotic Diarrhea

Many of us allow diarrhea to run its course or try to control it with over-the-counter medication.

However, left unchecked, diarrhea can last for weeks and may lead to complications like dehydration as well as loss of electrolytes. Therefore, it is best to get this ailment checked and treated by a doctor as soon as possible.

The first step in the treatment of osmotic diarrhea is making a few dietary changes. Your doctor will probably ask you to limit your intake of foods that contain lactose or sugar. Some of the other foods that you should cut down on, in case of osmotic diarrhea include:

  • Alcohol
  • Barley
  • Berries
  • Bran products
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Caffeinated products
  • Corn
  • Dairy products
  • Dates
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Dried fruit
  • Figs
  • Green beans
  • Lentils
  • Meat, fish and poultry
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Peas
  • Prune and prune juice
  • Rhubarb
  • Spicy food
  • Whole wheat products

For best results, people suffering from diarrhea are advised to follow the BRAT diet, which means, you can have Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. Foods with probiotics, like yogurt, are also good during diarrhea.

While medicines can help control the symptoms of osmotic diarrhea, they do not really help, speed up the recovery process. Therefore, it is important to check with a doctor before taking any kind of medication.

1 comment

  1. Marcy

    I have been diagnosed as suffering from osmotic diarrhea after a colonoscopy in August 2017. I had been having diarrhea for over 3 years. It progressed from every 3 months to monthly to once every other day to 3 times daily and 5-6 times daily in the last 3 months before colonoscopy. My weight went from 118 lbs. in 2013 to 88 lbs. today. All my life I have been eating healthy, I thought, by eating salads, veggies, fiber food, fish, chicken, brown instead of white rice, no red meat, no sugar as prevention from diabetes, etc.

    Now I am being instructed to eat the BRAT diet which is the opposite of what I was taught. At this point I haven’t gained weight yet although my diarrhea has subsided somewhat. I am still struggling to completely stop my diarrhea and to start gaining weight. Any help will be appreciated.

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