Loose Motions


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By Medicover Hospitals / 24 Dec 2020
Home | symptoms | loose motions
  • Loose motions or Diarrhea or loose stool is a symptom, not a disease. It is defined as frequent bowel movements of loose or watery stools. There are several ways to classify diarrhea. Anyone can get loose motions. It is common for many people to have diarrhea several times a year. It is generally not a major concern for most people.
  • Article Context:

    1. Causes
    2. Signs
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to see a Doctor?
    6. Home remedies
    7. Frequently Asked Questions
    8. Citations
  • Loose motions can be defined as frequent bowel movements of loose or watery stools.There are several ways to classify diarrhea. These types of diarrhea include:
    • Acute Diarrhea: The most common acute diarrhea is loose, watery diarrhea that lasts 1-2 days. This type does not need treatment and generally disappears after a few days.
    • Persistent Diarrhea: This type of diarrhea usually lasts for several weeks - two to four weeks
    • Chronic Diarrhea: Diarrhea that lasts longer than four weeks or comes and goes regularly over a long period of time is called chronic diarrhea.
  • Anyone can get diarrhea. It is common for many people to have diarrhea several times a year. It is generally not a major concern for most people.
  • However, loose motions can be severe in certain groups of people, including:

    • Young children
    • Elderly(older adults)
    • Those who have health problems
  • For each of these people, diarrhea can lead to other health problems. Usually, diarrhea resolves on its own and goes away without intervention. If your diarrhea does not improve and resolve completely, you may be at risk for complications (dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, kidney failure, and organ damage).
  • Causes:

    • Viral Infections: The Norwalk virus (It causes viral gastroenteritis, also known as acute non-bacterial gastroenteritis, food poisoning, food infection, stomach flu, and winter vomiting sickness. Infection with the Norwalk virus causes illness 24 - 48 hours after exposure and symptoms last 12 - 48 hours.), cytomegalovirus (cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus identified across the world. It is linked to the viruses that cause chickenpox and infectious mononucleosis. Between 50 and 80% of adults in the United States have had a CMV infection by the age of 40. Once the cytomegalovirus is in someone's body, it remains there for life.), and viral hepatitis is the main cause of diarrhea. Acute diarrhea in childhood is caused by the common known virus rotavirus. The virus that causes coronavirus has also been associated with gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, these are less common symptoms.
    • Bacteria and Parasites Infection: Contaminated food or water can transmit bacteria and parasites to the body. When you travel to developing countries, diarrhea caused by bacteria and parasites is often called traveler's diarrhea. Clostridium difficile is another type of bacteria that can cause serious infections that cause diarrhea, and it can happen after a course of antibiotics or while in hospital.
    • Lactose and Fructose Intolerance: Lactose is sugars that are found in milk and other dairy products. People who are having difficulty in digesting lactose can have diarrhea after eating dairy products. Lactose intolerance can increase with age due to levels of the enzyme that helps in digesting lactose after childhood. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar present in fruits and honey. It is sometimes added as a natural sweetener to certain drinks. People having fructose intolerance, may lead to diarrhea.
    • Medications: Many medications, like antibiotics, can cause diarrhea or loose motions. The natural balance of bacteria in the gut is disrupted by destroying good bacteria as well as bad bacteria through medication. Other drugs that cause diarrhea are chemotherapy drugs (such as irinotecan (Camptosar) 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU)) and antacids, which contain magnesium.
    • Digestive disorders: Chronic diarrhea has many other causes, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, microscopic colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.


    The signs of loose motions include:
    • Stomach pain
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Bloating
    • Weight Loss
    • Fever
    • Body Aches
    • Chills
    Loose motions are also a sign of other conditions, some of which can be serious. Other possible symptoms are:
    • Blood in the stool
    • Mucus in the stool
    • Persistent vomiting
    • Dehydration


  • When a doctor asks about your symptoms, they will suggest you take the following test according to your symptoms:
    • Blood Test: A complete blood count test helps in showing what is causing diarrhea.
    • Stool Test: The doctor might recommend a stool test to see if a bacteria or parasite is causing diarrhea.
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy: Using a thin, lighted tube that is inserted into the rectum, so that a doctor can see inside the colon. The device is provided with a tool that allows a doctor to take a biopsy from the colon. Flexible sigmoidoscopy provides a lower colon view, and a colonoscopy allows the doctor to view the entire colon.


    Most of the diarrhea is mild and for a short duration and does not need the attention of a doctor. Treatment is needed when the patient is suffering from:
    • High fever (temperature more than 101 F or 38.3 C).
    • Moderate or severe abdominal pain.
    • Blood in the loose stool.
    • Loose motions with a serious underlying disorder for whom dehydration can have more severe consequences, for example, people with diabetes, heart disease, and AIDS.
    • Severe loose motions or diarrhea that shows no improvement after 48 hours.
    • Moderate or severe dehydration.
    • Continues vomiting that prevents intake of fluids orally.
    • Acute diarrhea in pregnant women because of care for the health of the fetus.

    When to see a Doctor?

  • Although occasional episodes of diarrhea are common and are not of concern, diarrhea can become hazardous if it causes serious dehydration. It can also signal an infection or a more serious health problem.
  • See a physician immediately if you undergo any of the following symptoms:
    • Yogurt contains good bacteria (probiotics) which play a key role in keeping the gut healthy. probiotics fight with the loose motion-causing bad bacteria.
    • Apple cider vinegar acts as a natural antibiotic that helps destroy the bad organisms present in the gut and relieves the irritated colon lining.
    • Diarrhea that lasts over two days.
    • Diarrhea with fever at 102 degrees F or above.
    • Six or more loose bowel movements within 24 hours.
    • Intense and unbearable pain in the abdomen or rectum.
    • Bloody or black and tarry stools or containing puss.
    • Diarrhea with frequent vomiting.
    • Signs of dehydration.
  • Infants, toddlers, and toddlers should be taken to the doctor if they have any of these symptoms or have diarrhea that lasts longer than 24 hours.
  • The elderly and people with weakened immune systems should also see a doctor if they have diarrhea.
  • Home Remedies:

    Some natural remedies for loose motions include:
    • Yogurt: Yogurt contains good bacteria (probiotics) which play a key role in keeping the gut healthy. probiotics fight with the loose motion-causing bad bacteria.
    • Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar acts as a natural antibiotic that helps destroy the bad organisms present in the gut and relieves the irritated colon lining.
    • Coconut Water: Coconut water contains electrolytes such as potassium and sodium that can help to restore the body's electrolyte balance. It helps to replace the fluids lost from the body and increases blood circulation. The chemical components in coconut water not only rehydrate, but also provide essential nutrients such as amino acids, fatty acids, vitamin C, magnesium, and enzymes that in turn boost stronger immunity.
    • Cumin Water: The antiseptic properties of cumin helps in killing harmful bacteria in the gut and settle irritated intestines.
    • Ginger: Ginger has antibacterial properties that attack dangerous pathogens that trigger loose motions or diarrhea.
    • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice contains high anti-inflammatory and acidic properties that can soothe irritated guts and replace the body's pH balance. It also has minerals like magnesium and potassium that can help offset the loss of nutrients from the body.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Treatments to stop loose motions immediately include:
  • Taking anti-diarrheal medications (such as Bismuth subsalicylate, Loperamide).
  • Consuming more fiber.
  • Staying hydrated
  • Adding honey to your diet.
  • Avoiding food and drinks that are triggers.
  • Foods to take for stopping loose motions:
  • Hot cereals, such as oatmeal, rice porridge.
  • Bananas.
  • Applesauce.
  • Plain white Rice.
  • Bread or Toast.
  • Boiled Potatoes.
  • Unseasoned Crackers.
  • Loose motions are abnormally watery motions that can have a variety of different causes. They are very common and are generally not associated with any serious health risks. Loose motions often occur after eating, but can also occur at other times of the day.
  • Viral infections are the most common cause of continuous loose motions. These are the other causes or reasons of continuous loose motions:
  • Bacterial infections.
  • Intestinal disorders or diseases.
  • Reaction to certain medications.
  • Plain white Rice.
  • Intolerance to foods.
  • Parasites.
  • Many people have diarrhea a few times a year. It usually lasts 2 to 3 days. Some people have it more often. This may be because they have Irritable Bowel Disorder (IBD) or other conditions.
    Azithromycin is the preferred first-line antibiotic for the treatment of acute watery diarrhea (500 mg single dose), as well as febrile diarrhea and dysentery (1,000 mg single dose).