Causes of diarrhoea

Days are precious when you’re on holiday or when you’ve got a big event coming up. Maybe it’s a wedding, dinner with the in-laws or a job interview, but whatever it is, the last thing you need is a bout of diarrhoea to spoil your day.

Acute diarrhoea can develop quickly but usually resolves on its own in a day or two, lasting less than 14 days. The most common cause of acute diarrhoea is an infection in the gut, such as gastroenteritis or food poisoning. Diarrhoea that persists for longer than 4 weeks is described as chronic diarrhoea. It can indicate an underlying medical condition so it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional for medical advice.

Icon representing 1 in 4 people - 1 person icon is blue, the 3 others are white

1 in 4 gastro cases
are from contaminated
food or water

Some major causes of acute diarrhoea include:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Food poisoning
  • Some tropical diseases, such as typhoid and cholera
  • Emotional stress or anxiety
  • Side effects from certain medications, eg. antibiotics

The most common causes of chronic diarrhoea are underlying conditions such as food intolerances (for example to lactose) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Learn more about causes of diarrhoea including: