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Dr. Arun Phophalia
Dr. Arun Phophalia, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 35485
Experience:  MBBS MS. Post doctoral fellowship in Sports Medicine. General surgeon and sports medicine specialist
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My mother is 76. For over five years now she has experienced

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My mother is 76. For over five years now she has experienced explosive diarrhea 3-5 times a day. It comes on quickly, with no warning, and because her mobility is limited she often does not make it to the bathroom in time. This has literally made her life a living hell for over five years. Mom rarely leaves the house because she couldn't bear to have her guts explode on her in public.
Her current doctor says he believes that during a colonoscopy 5 years ago the physician clipped or otherwise overstimulated a nerve. He's suggested a few things which have not worked, and now just tells her to try to live with it. The jerk didn't even suggest she see a specialist.
What could be causing such violent, consistent diarrhea?
Thank you,
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Arun Phophalia replied 9 months ago.

Hello! My name is***** to JustAnswer. I'm reviewing your question now, and will post back with the reply momentarily.

Expert:  Dr. Arun Phophalia replied 9 months ago.


This diarrhea needs a thorough investigations which include stool exam, CT scan, defecography etc. I do not think that colonoscopy here is responsible for the problem.

The initial evaluation of diarrhea is on these characteristic;

a) stool volume,

b) frequency,

c) consistency, and

d) gross appearance.

This description to use the term "diarrhea" to describe urgency and the frequent passage of small-volume stools suggests a functional disorder such as IBS.

Stool volume can give an idea of disease location and underlying mechanism.

a) Large-volume stools (more than one liter per day) would point to small bowel disease and secretory diarrhea.

b) Small-volume stools (less than 300 ml per day) suggest large intestine diseases and functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS.

Stool consistency can be varied ranging from formed to watery, and correlates with the rate of intestinal transit.

a) Secretory diarrheas are liquid.

b) Functional diarrheas are soft or semi-solid.

c) Stool floating will be indicative of if being filled with gas from fermentation of mal absorbed carbohydrates.

d) Mucus can point to both inflammatory and noninflammatory diarrheas, such as ulcerative colitis and IBS.

Stool appearance helps to classify diarrhea as;

a) Watery diarrhea is caused by carbohydrate malabsorption, medications, bile acid malabsorption, Crohn's disease, microscopic colitis, chronic mesenteric ischemia, post surgical diarrhea, hyperthyroidism, colonic adenomas and carcinomas, alcohol induced diarrhea, laxative abuse, and hormone-secreting tumors.

b) Steatorrhea or fatty diarrhea is greasy, oily, foul smelling, bulky, or voluminous stools that are often difficult to flush, might contain undigested food particles, and sometimes leaves an oily stain in the toilet bowl. These characteristics suggest pancreatic disease, short bowel syndrome, celiac disease, giardiasis, and small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SBBO).

c) Bloody diarrhea suggests Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's colitis, cancer and chronic infections.

Chronic diarrhea, is defined as the production of loose stools with or without increased stool frequency for more than 4 weeks. The main causes of the chronic diarrhea are following;

1) Irritable bowel syndrome; it is a sort of functional diarrhea in which no abnormality is found.

2) Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); this is auto immune mediated type of diarrhea and it can involve other organs in the body. The biopsy of colon and small intestines need to be taken to establish the diagnosis with investigations like CRP, ANA, HLA B 27 etc. There are two type of IBD;

a) Crohn's disease

b) Ulcerative colitis

3) Microscopic colitis; Microscopic colitis is characterized by chronic watery (secretory) diarrhea without bleeding. It usually occurs in middle-aged patients. Two different types of microscopic colitis have been generally recognized:

a) Lymphocytic colitis

b) Collagenous colitis without lymphocytic infiltration of the surface epithelium

Collagenous and lymphocytic colitis produce a similar clinical picture characterized by non bloody chronic watery (secretory) diarrhea of up to two liters daily. So total amount of stools per day has to ascertained.

4) Malabsorption syndromes; The classic manifestations of malabsorption are pale, greasy, voluminous, foul-smelling stools and weight loss despite adequate food intake.

5) Chronic infections; Some persisting infections (C. difficile, Aeromonas, Plesiomonas, Camyplobacter, Giardia, Amebae, etc.) can be associated with chronic diarrhea.

Your mother should be investigated for IBD, chronic infections or for secretory diarrhea (by estimating total amount of stools per 24 hours). Looking for the carcinoid tumor also may be considered. Gastrinoma and VIPoma also should be considered for prolonged secretory diarrhea and an high index of suspicion is required. Secretory diarrhea characteristically continues despite fasting, is associated with stool volumes more than 1 liter/day. Selective testing for plasma peptides such as gastrin, calcitonin, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, and somatostatin, as well as urine excretion of 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, metanephrine, or histamine and other tests of endocrine function, such as measurement of thyroid-stimulating hormone and serum thyroxine levels or an adrenocorticotropin-stimulation test for adrenal insufficiency, can be considered by your physician. An aspirate of small bowel contents for quantitative culture or breath tests with glucose or isotopically labeled xylose can be used to establish the presence of small bowel bacterial overgrowth.

Meanwhile an empirical trial of bile acid-binding resins, such as cholestyramine, may be started, which is the least expensive way to diagnose bile acid-induced diarrhea. Opiates are the most effective nonspecific antidiarrheal agents and can also be considered as a therapy in your case with Octreotide.

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Wishing you all the very best in life.

Expert:  Dr. Arun Phophalia replied 9 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Arun Phophalia replied 9 months ago.

Best wishes,
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