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What causes liquid diarrhea?

Updated April 17, 2017

While diarrhoea is defined as markedly loose stool, severe watery diarrhoea can lead to dangerous levels of dehydration, especially in children. Here are just a few of the most common causes for liquid diarrhoea.

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Infections and Parasites

Watery stools can be the result of both viral and bacterial infections. E. coli and salmonella are notable because of their severity. Giardia is an extremely contagious parasite that can cause watery stools and prolonged bouts of diarrhoea.

Food Intolerances

Two of the most common food intolerance that can lead to watery diarrhoea are lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance. Both cases usually present gas, pain and watery stool since the intestines cannot digest the lactose or gluten appropriately.


Some prescription medication have side effects of watery stools. Usually, the gastrointestinal track's environment is thrown off, causing an overabundance of bad bugs that lead to liquid diarrhoea.


Certain diseases can cause liquid diarrhoea, including coeliac disease, Crohn's and inflammatory bowel disease.


Lack of fluids can cause the body to accumulate water in the bowls in a feast-or-famine mode. This can later lead to higher levels of liquid in the stool.

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About the Author

Vivian Nelson Melle is a freelance writer with experience working and writing in the fields of travel, mental health, education, holistic health, body image and beauty. Vivian has a Master's in Community Counseling from University of Phoenix and a Bachelor's in Special Education from Arizona State University. She worked in both fields before becoming a writer.

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