Diarrhea For a Week- What Could It Mean? Serious or Not!


Diarrhea is the body’s way of removing unwanted toxins — an acute or chronic condition of repeated bowel movements. Acute diarrhea lasts for a short time, usually one to two days. However, if the same last for long, it may be a sign of a chronic problem. The stools are characterised as loose and watery. Around 2 billions of people suffer from diarrhea each year, all around the globe.

In the majority of cases, diarrhea is acute. The time-frame of disease is short and quick, which lasts no more than three days. At times, its body reaction to contaminated food and heal by itself after elimination of toxins. However, if the same continue to persist and last for a week or more, then its a sign that diarrhea has turned sub-acute or chronic. It will involve many additional complication and life-threatening effects.

Time Frame of Diarrhea

There is no definite period signifying how long diarrhea shall last. However, depending on the time-frame, diarrhea has been classified into three sub-categories-

  • Acute Diarrhea

It refers to the category of diarrhea in which symptoms commonly last long for not more than two weeks.

  • Subacute Diarrhea

It refers to the category of diarrhea in which symptoms commonly last long for a period of two to four weeks.

  • Chronic Diarrhea

It refers to the category of diarrhea in which symptoms continue to persist after four weeks. Such diarrhea is severe and can also be turned into a life-threatening disease.

It is commonly believed that non-threatening diarrhea shall not last for a longer time- frame and shall leave in a quick span of days. However, the duration of persistence depends on various host of factors such as a weak immune system, lifestyle factors, rehydration and overall health status of an individual.

Therefore non-threatening or non-severe diarrhea may last for a long period due to the variability of factors playing together in the individual experiencing it. As such, a person suffering from HIV Aids will experience diarrhea for larger time- frame due to his poor immune system.

Diarrhea for a Week

There have been instances in which diarrhea lasting for few days left severe complication on individuals suffering from the disease. However, by common grounds, studied in the majority of cases, it is not serious or severe. Diarrhea that lasts for a time frame of a few days usually leaves without any complications.

The chances of complications arise only when diarrhea persist for a bigger time-frame. One of the complications that have arisen in many instances is ‘death’.

As the disease continues to persist, the body starts losing water and electrolytes. It eventually disrupts the body. The most substantial loss it can cause, is to the functioning of kidneys and the heart. There are various steps which can be taken to compensate with dehydration of the body like- Drinking a lot of fluids, taking oral rehydration solutions, etc. Though in many incidents, the same has not been proved to work as desired, thereby a failure at overcoming the complications.

The dehydration will increase in direct proportion to time-frame of persisting diarrhea. Other than that there can develop certain complications in intestinal flora, which tends to worsen with the prolonged disease. The complications can have a long-term effect on the body. As, even after the original causes of diarrhea has been diagnosed as well as treated, the disease may continue to last for an indefinite period.

Causes of Diarrhea for a Week

There is a similarity between the causes of diarrhea lasting for a week and typical diarrhea lasting for a period of a few days. Irrespective of common symptoms, diarrhea may tend to persist in some cases, depending upon the variability in the host. The factors may include the strength of the immune system, medical history, and type of body response towards medication. During the time of diagnosis, it is significant to trace the exact cause to provide proper treatment to the individual suffering from the disease.

Some of the causes are mentioned below-

1. Autoimmune

In the case of autoimmune diseases, the root cause lies in the immune system of the person. External factors have a very limited role to play in this. The immune system tends to lash out on certain tissues, which tend to cause a sense of inflammation in the body. Such sense of inflammation is there in excretion of bowels, and commonly known as inflammatory bowel disease. There is no precise cause and effect relationship established for an inflammatory bowel movement and remain unclear. However, the factor of surety lies in Diarrhea being one of the symptoms of such disease.

2. Medication

Abuse of various drugs can lead to diarrhea as their side effect. There are around 700 medicines available which can cause diarrhea. Some classes of such medicines are antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, heartburn medications, anti-neoplastic medication, etc.

3. Surgery

At certain instances, diarrhea is caused as a result of an undergone surgery by the individual. It is commonly occurred, that the surgery is related to abdominal. The removal of any part of the digestive tract, done at the time of cancer, can be a trigger of the disease. Also, it can be linked with gallbladder removal surgery.

4. Nutrition

Nutrition deficiency can be one of the triggers of diarrhea. In various developing and under-developed countries, cases of zinc deficiency are identified among children. This deficiency hold a significant impact on the functioning of the immune system, thereby making a person more open and vulnerable to disease. Likewise, a deficiency in Vitamin-A also seems to have a cause and effect relationship with diarrhea.

5. Infections

They are among the most frequent known causes of diarrhea. Every individual, at some stage in their life, gets in contact with the infection. Ordinarily, it happens at a very early stage, i.e. childhood. The viral infections are speculated to be the trigger of diarrhea. They are easy to be caught in unprotected external surroundings. The traveller’s diarrhea is generally caused by stomach flu. Other common causes of infectious diarrhea infection are virus and bacteria.

6. Food

The daily need for survival can at times be proved deadly as food can cause diarrhea for numerous reason. The infectious diarrhea is caused when there is some form of contamination involved in the meal. Such contamination is the major cause of diarrhea in various under-developed and developing countries. The contaminated food contains a virus, bacteria or toxins, leading as a gateway to disease.

In other cases, there is a certain class of food which is difficult for the body of the host to digest. The sensitivity of gut varies from individual to individual. Hence, intake of any food- intolerance will result in irritation of bowel movement, thereby symptoms of diarrhea.

7. Functional

There are various instances in which the abnormality of bowel movement is traced without identification of any disease or definite cause behind it. Such condition is normally classified under irritable bowel syndrome. There is no identifiable reason behind it. Irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea is characterised by frequent excretion of loose, watery stool, followed by abdominal pain and cramps.

Treatment of Diagnosis for a Week

1. Medication

There are various anti-diarrheal medicines available over the counter, on prescription,

-Imodium and Loperamide are used to facilitate the reduction of stool passage.

-Pepto bismol is used for the treatment of diarrhea in adults and children. It also aids in the treatment of traveller’s diarrhea.

2. Probiotics

Probiotics are available in powder, capsules, liquids, and tablets. The effect of probiotics in the treatment of diarrhea holds mix evidence. However, its efficiency cannot be ignored that it can facilitate in complete prevention of traveller’s diarrhea. Also, probiotic can aids in the reduction of diarrhea in children, within the time frame of a day. Though, there are numerous strains linked with the Probiotics. Ultimately, an individual shall go with the opinion of a doctor.

3. Rehydration

At the time of diarrhea, there is a constant urge of discharging faeces, frequently. The stool is watery and loose. In response to which, the body loses a great amount of water and electrolyte. There is a sense of tiredness and exhaustion experienced by the body. Hence to compensate it, by all means, a person has to engage in the consumption of water and rehydrate his body. It is highly advised that after each watery stool, a glass of water shall be consumed as a follow-up.  Also, it must ensure that water is clean and non-infectious. Boiling of water can be great for killing infectious bacteria. It is best advised to consume water in- between the meals. Also, it is best to avoid the consumption of water during the intake of the meal.


Doctors usually recommend a BRAT diet to people suffering from diarrhea. A BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Such a diet is highly content with starch and aids in making the stools more firmer. During the time-frame of diarrhea, the stomach of a person becomes extra sensitive. Hence BRAT diet makes sure to not cause any discomfort or irritation in the intestine. Also, the diet is rich in potassium and magnesium, thereby helping in compensation of lost nutrients in the body.


Also Recommended

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Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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