The causes of yellow watery diarrhea are traditionally related to the liver, gall bladder, and small intestine. Sometimes they can be a symptom and indicator of some serious problem (such as a parasitic infection or liver disease) while other times they are the most obvious part of a not particularly serious problem.
In fact, if yellow diarrhea occurs only for one or a few days, it could for example be related to some food or medicine taken. On the other hand, if yellow diarrhea is chronic, it is much more likely that it can be the reference of some more concrete problem to be investigated.
Yellow watery Diarrhea Causes
The same clinical condition such as diarrhea, being referred to a complex organ such as the intestine, can be due to the most diverse causes, as explained in the article ” Acute Diarrhea in Adults and Children: a Global Perspective “:
- From anxiety to stress;
- From issues related to food (intolerances/allergies);
- When taking medications (antibiotics / laxatives / non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs);
- From bacterial infections (salmonella, cholera, shigella, etc.);
- To pathologies such as colon cancer;
- Ulcerative colitis;
- Irritable bowel syndrome;
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
Acute attacks are usually caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or infections, while chronic ailments are usually related to functional disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or other inflammatory bowel diseases.
Top 9 Causes of yellow watery diarrhea
Bacterial Infections: Several types of bacteria ingested through contaminated food or water can cause diarrhea. The most common culprits include:
- Staphylococcus aureus;
- Escherichia coli;
- Clostridium Difficile;
Many viruses cause diarrhea, including rotavirus, Norwalk virus (responsible for so-called intestinal influences), cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and viral hepatitis. In children, rotavirus and adenovirus are particularly active;
Some people are unable to digest foods, such as some artificial sweeteners and lactose. This sugar present in milk and dairy products is among the elements most implicated in this disorder, it is used as an excipient in many drugs and, in highly intolerant patients, minimal quantities of this sugar can cause diarrhea;
Reaction to Drugs
Antibiotics, drugs to lower blood pressure, chemotherapy, and antacids containing magnesium can cause diarrhea. The list of drugs that can cause diarrhea, for the mechanism of action with which they act or as a side effect, is particularly rich. According to the study ” Drug-induced diarrhea “, among the drugs on the market, over 700 were involved in the onset of diarrhea which, in this case, is defined as iatrogenic. Among the most commonly used drugs responsible for this disorder are antibiotics, especially if broad-spectrum. These molecules, used for bacterial infections, also destroy bacteria in the microbial flora of the large intestine, increasing the likelihood that pathogenic microorganisms responsible for diarrhea will proliferate. This side effect can be at least partially prevented by associating the antimicrobial drug with a specific treatment with probiotics (for more information see the article: ” Probiotics: what are they for? What foods are they found in? “);
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Such as acarbose, reduce the absorption of carbohydrates and dietary fat yellow watery diarrhea. In addition to laxatives, antacids for the stomach (magnesium, pump inhibitors such as omeprazole and pantoprazole ), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Fans-aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.), antineoplastics used in anticancer therapies can cause the same disorder. Drugs used in cardiology can also cause diarrhea. In particular, the antihypertensive agents Ace inhibitors (quinapril) and beta-blockers (propranolol) should be considered. Central nervous system drugs that cause diarrhea include anxiolytics (benzodiazepines such as alprazolam), antidepressants (fluoxetine);
Inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and celiac disease are often all pathologies that manifest this disorder in a more or less serious way;
Functional disorders of the intestine. Diarrhea can be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome;
A lump of hard, dehydrated stool that forms in the intestine generally causes constipation on one side, and liquid stools on the other, due to extravasation of stool around the obstruction. In this case, it is a paroxysmal pseudo-diarrhea, presenting with sporadic episodes;
Abuse of Laxatives
In people suffering from constipation, the uncontrolled use of laxatives is possible which, as a side effect, cause yellow watery diarrhea due to excessive propulsive activity of the intestine;
After-effects of surgical interventions. Some people develop diarrhea after stomach surgery or following the removal of the gallbladder. The reason may be respectively a change in the way food moves through the digestive system, an increase in bile in the colon which has a laxative action within the intestine;
The heat favors bacterial proliferation in poorly stored food (hence also the intoxication from the consumption of raw meat or fish). Then there are physical stimuli, such as a sudden change in temperature due to too cold air conditioning or the ingestion of iced drinks. These are factors that increase intestinal motility and consequent diarrhea;
People who visit foreign countries are at risk for diarrhea, caused by food or drinking water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Traveler’s diarrhea can be a problem, especially for developing countries. Influenza or parainfluenza viruses (such as the so-called intestinal flu) belong to this group of microorganisms.
The main foods at risk are:
- Raw or undercooked meat;
- Vegetables and fruit washed with contaminated water;
- Unpasteurized dairy products;
- Drinks with ice.
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Yellow diarrhea in children
As for children more specifically, yellow can be a normal color for stool; it is the typical shade, for example, of the feces of exclusively breastfed infants.
In general, only red, black, or white stools are considered of concern (because they can be associated with the presence of blood and mucus), and even in these cases, it is not always to be excluded a priori that the color may depend on what children with diarrhea they ate.
If it is highly probable that the color depends on the diet, it may be sufficient to wait for everything to return to normal, otherwise, it is good to contact the pediatrician and follow his advice or go to the emergency room. For example, as in adults, yellow diarrhea in children can also be triggered by celiac disease.
Among the most common causes of yellow watery diarrhea in children is viral gastroenteritis, in which intestinal problems are often associated with nausea and vomiting. In addition to viruses, infections by bacteria and parasites (including giardiasis, which can also affect adults and the elderly) can also trigger diarrhea in children.
Other possible causes of diarrhea in children are:
- food allergy
- food intolerances (especially lactose intolerance)
- chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis).
Yellow diarrhea: foods to prefer and avoid
The choice of the most suitable diet in case of yellow diarrhea also depends on the causes of the problem.
As mentioned, diet plays an essential role when celiac disease is causing the disorder. In this case, it is essential to avoid the intake of even very small quantities of gluten; it is enough to exceed 10 mg per day to trigger the strong reaction of the immune system which leads to damage to the wall of the small intestine and to the typical symptoms of celiac disease.
Gluten is present in various cereals: to avoid it it is necessary to exclude from one’s diet wheat, rye, barley, spelled and triticale in all their forms and variants. It is therefore not possible to eat gonococcus, spelled, drunken, Kamut, and frik, and not even couscous, bulgur, cracked wheat, and seitan (a real gluten concentrate).
As for oats, it is possible that it contains gluten. For this reason, it is good to limit yourself to consuming products that contain it only if included in the national register of gluten-free products of the Ministry of Health.
Instead, it is possible to eat, for example, rice, corn, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and their derivatives without running any risk.
If, on the other hand, the yellow color is due to the high-fat content, it is good to try to limit the intake of these nutrients, reducing both the consumption of foods (processed and not) that are rich in them (such as some cuts of meat and sausages., or some baked goods) and the addition of oil.
In general, however, to limit the consequences of diarrheal discharges and in particular to implement a strategy to prevent dehydration, it is good to try to promote rehydration by drinking water (perhaps with a little lemon juice, a classic “remedy for grandmother “against diarrhea) and consuming light liquid foods (such as vegetable broth), thus recovering lost fluids.
Taking mineral salts, on the other hand, is useful to avoid deficiencies due to their reduced absorption and excessive loss with the feces, while lactic ferments can be useful to restore the balance of the intestinal bacterial flora (whose composition can be altered for example later on to antibiotic treatment against bacterial infections).
Some foods, such as rice, are traditionally attributed an astringent effect; for this reason, they are recommended in case of diarrhea.
On the other hand, avoiding the intake of large quantities of fibers could promote an undesirable laxative effect when dealing with an accelerated intestinal transit.
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