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Red Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Red Diarrhea?

Infamous to be one of the most distressing diseases, red diarrhea is fairly common. It is important to know what red diarrhea is, its causes, symptoms and treatment. Red diarrhea is typically caused by excessive consumption of red food or drinks or due to an infection or bleeding in the genitalia. The excreta is customarily brown in color and is in the form of loose stools which occur frequently.

What are the Causes of Red Diarrhea?

What are the Causes of Red Diarrhea?

In order to understand red diarrhea, it is important to shed light on some of the possible causes of red diarrhea which are as follows:-

Notovirus – Usually a pathogen, such as virus or bacterium is one of the common causes of red diarrhea. The most characteristic pathogen responsible for red diarrhea is notovirus.

Rotavirus – Typically, rotavirus is also one of the leading causes of red diarrhea. Rotavirus sometimes referred to as stomach bug or stomach flu usually affects children below 5 years of age. The symptoms are same as those caused by any other pathogen i.e. occasional vomiting and dizziness associated with diarrhea.

Antibiotics – Frequent use of antibiotics also results in loose stools and is again one of the frequent causes of red diarrhea.

Gastrointestinal Bleeding – Gastrointestinal bleeding may also be one of the causes of red diarrhea. Bleeding in the digestive system can be caused by a number of factors which include constipation, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infection, and stomach ulcers. The blood that comes out of the digestive system has a darker shade than the blood coming out of the genitalia which would be typically bright red.

E. Coli – A harmful bacterium called as E. coli is also deemed to cause several bodily malfunctions and is one of the causes of red diarrhea. E. coli bacteria may enter your body through various food items like under cooked meat, unpasteurized milk or food which has traces of animal waste. The symptoms take a couple of days to appear and affect the victim’s body.

Polyps – Another pertinent factor which causes red diarrhea, is polyps, which irritates the colon and can also cause internal bleeding. This often results in bloody stools and red diarrhea.

Gastrointestinal bleeding is further fueled by unnecessary medications with a number of side effects that may can worsen red diarrhea.

Food Items – Certain food items like red wine, fruit juices, red jellies or candies, etc. too can cause red diarrhea. To avoid red diarrhea, it is advised to stay away from such food products.

Pre Existing Disease – A pre-existing illness may also be one of the causes of red diarrhea. So, people with diabetes, autoimmune disorder or inflammatory bowel disease, are at greater risk of suffering from red diarrhea.

Lifestyle Factors – If you happen to neglect hygienic activities like washing hands before meals, drinking good quality water or if you regularly consume significant proportions of red meat, your health can seriously get affected and the chances of suffering from red diarrhea can also increase proportionally.

What are the Symptoms of Red Diarrhea?

Following are some of the visible symptoms of red diarrhea:-

Abdominal Pain – Pain in the abdomen area is one of the commonest symptoms of red diarrhea. It may also be associated with crampy sensation or bloating in some cases.

Fatigue & Nausea – Another common symptom of red diarrhea is fatigue and a sense of nausea after excessive loss of fluids from the body.

Fever – If there is infection, fever is another probable symptom of red diarrhea.

Severe loss of blood due to frequent bowels and excretion may result in complications like scarcity of iron in the body, failure of kidneys, loss of blood and other fluids from the body, ultimately resulting in an acute case of dehydration. Hence, timely diagnosis and treatment of red diarrhea is necessary.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Red Diarrhea

If there are signs and symptoms of red diarrhea, medical help is required.

Fecal Occult Blood Test – Stools with blood in it needs immediate diagnosis and medical care. In this case, your doctor might ask you to go for a fecal occult blood test. The test would diagnose the traces of blood in the feces.

Stool Test to Detect E. Coli – In cases where the symptoms of infection occur, a stool test to detect the presence of E. coli bacterium is conducted. Toxins produced in our body due to the presence of this bacterium are used to diagnose the disease further.

All these tests are conducted under the medical supervision and appropriate treatment is planned.

What is the Treatment of Red Diarrhea?

Based on the causes, the treatment of red diarrhea may vary. Following are some of the ways to treat red diarrhea:-

Body’s Self Defense Mechanism – For people with a healthy immune system no additional treatment is required. The bacteria typically cleanse itself in about a week and the condition resolves on its own. However, if it stays for a prolonged time, you need to consult a physician.

Medications – Treatment of red diarrhea includes medications like loperamide that are effective against the bacteria, but are best taken with medical advice. In cases where the symptoms still persist, the doctor might provide the patient with doses of nitroglycerine and other anesthetic creams such as xylocaine.

Replenish the Body Fluids – It is important to keep the fluid levels in the body balanced by drinking a lot of water to replenish the significant levels of water loss caused due to red diarrhea. Oral rehydrating solution (ORS) is an important part of treatment of red diarrhea. Intravenous fluids are given in extreme cases by doctors to make up for the loss of fluids in the body.

Exercise – Regular exercises can keep your body fit, aid digestion and metabolism as well. It is important to consult your physician about your health status, before your begin exercising and gradually progress, as your health improves.


It is important to seek timely medical advice. Maintain a healthy diet and consume sufficient amounts of clean packaged water to improve digestion. Maintain good personal hygiene, follow a healthy routine and exercising regularly for a faster recovery.


  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022). Gastrointestinal bleeding. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/gastrointestinal-bleeding/basics/definition/sym-20050746
  2. American College of Gastroenterology. (2018). Diarrhea. American College of Gastroenterology. https://gi.org/topics/diarrhea/
  3. Riddle, M. S., & DuPont, H. L. (2016). Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea and colitis. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, 32(1), 47-53.
  4. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022). Gastroenteritis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/viral-gastroenteritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20378847
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Escherichia coli (E. coli). CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/index.html
  6. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022). Stool color: When to worry. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/stool-color/expert-answers/faq-20058080
  7. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022). Diarrhea. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352241
  8. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2017). Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract. NIH. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract/symptoms-causes
  9. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022). Fecal occult blood test. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/fecal-occult-blood-test/about/pac-20394175
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 24, 2023

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