No matter what, diarrhea is pretty crappy. (No pun intended.) But, it also turns out that not all diarrhea is the same.
Nope. Just like there are lots of types of poop, there are lots of types of diarrhea. And each one says something very specific about your health. While acute diarrhea (a lose stool here or there) is incredibly common and no real biggie, if your diarrhea lasts for more than a few days, it's important to make an appointment with your doctor. Chronic diarrhea that lasts for four weeks or more can be a sign of an underlying health issue. Meanwhile, if you also have a fever of 102 or higher, are experiencing severe pain, or think that you might be dehydrated, calling the doc is never a bad idea.
* Osmotic diarrhea
Osmotic diarrhea happens when too much water is pulled into your bowels, creating watery No.3. “It usually indicates that something that you’ve taken in isn’t being absorbed,” Bedford says. Having a lactose intolerance is a common cause of osmotic diarrhea, as well as consumption of artificial sweeteners, he says. Avoiding dairy products or cutting back on sweeteners may help.
* Secretory diarrhea
Secretory diarrhea looks a lot like osmotic diarrhea when you're staring into the bowl. But if you're avoiding the dairy and sugar that causes osmotic diarrhea, and you're still experiencing diarrhea even when you don't eat, it's probably secretory.This form of diarrhea strikes when your intestines secrete electrolytes into your colon, which causes water to build up in your GI tract.
* Exudative diarrhea
If you have blood and pus in your stool, go to the doctor immediately. Exudative diarrhea is usually linked with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, Bedford says, although some infections such as E. coli can also cause it. Depending on the reason for your exudative diarrhea, steroid medications or immunosuppressants may be needed to help you feel better.
* Paradoxical diarrhea
Diarrhea is never fun, but paradoxical diarrhea is a double-whammy. This happens when people have severe constipation and liquid behind the backup gets around the poop and leaks out as diarrhea.
If you’re having little bits of diarrhea more than three times per day, congrats! You have pseudodiarrhea. A common symptom of GI conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, it can also occur because of constipation, just like paradoxical diarrhea, Bedford says. If adding more fiber to your diet or an enema doesn't do anything, you'll need to talk to your doctor about next steps.