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What is Idiopathic Diarrhea: Symptoms, Treatment Options

When the bowel movements take place quite frequently which is more than three or four times in a day, the condition is called diarrhea. An unformed and watery stool passes during diarrhea which can develop due to several reasons. If the cause of diarrhea is not clear, it is termed as idiopathic diarrhea. It is important to know the symptoms and treatment options of idiopathic diarrhea.

What is Idiopathic Diarrhea?

What is Idiopathic Diarrhea?

When the underlying cause of diarrhea is not clear and remains unknown, it is known as idiopathic diarrhea. Such a diarrhea is often chronic in nature which means that the patient has been experiencing the problem for more than a month’s time.

Even the most severe diarrhea cases are sometimes functional as it occurs suddenly and also gets resolved on its own without any medical help or special investigation. However, in cases of idiopathic diarrhea, one needs to undergo a thorough investigation. If no abnormality is found then the doctors regard irritable bowel syndrome and functional diarrhea to be the probable causes of idiopathic diarrhea.

If a doctor has to label the problem to be functional diarrhea, it is necessary to first exclude all the other forms of it which include malabsorption, food allergies, inflammation or infection. It is necessary to study the symptoms of idiopathic diarrhea, which can give an idea about the possible underlying condition.

Symptoms of Idiopathic Diarrhea

It is seen in most of the cases that patients are in absolutely good health before the onset of this problem. The patient has normal frequencies of stool and may or may not have a history of constipation.

With the onset of this condition being quite abrupt, the patient suddenly complains of frequent stools which are watery in nature, which is one of the commonest symptoms of idiopathic diarrhea. In some extreme cases, patients pass as many as 15 to 20 bowel movements every day. The urgency to pass stool is quite high and the patient might have to visit the toilet in the middle of the night as well as in the morning.

Another common symptom of idiopathic diarrhea is that the bowel movements are felt and the patient often uses toilet after every meal. Some types of foods, spices or fatty food may also trigger or worsen the symptoms of idiopathic diarrhea in some people.

Other related symptoms of idiopathic diarrhea include:

  • Cramps in the abdomen
  • Presence of mucus in stool
  • Distension in abdomen
  • Flatulence and feeling of distension
  • Moderate weight loss.

Treatment Options for Idiopathic Diarrhea

Idiopathic diarrhea which is chronic in nature persists for a long time which may be a few months in some cases while in many severe cases it continues for years. The patients might become tired and exhausted due to the several bowel movements every day.

Because the underlying cause or condition for idiopathic diarrhea is not known, analyzing the treatment options for idiopathic diarrhea is quite difficult. The doctor first rules out all the other probable causes for this type of diarrhea and once the condition is diagnosed, treatment options for idiopathic diarrhea can be considered.

While in some cases, antibiotics and anti-amebic treatments are given, they may not work very well on idiopathic diarrhea; in fact, in most cases the problem resolves on its own.

However there are some treatment options for idiopathic diarrhea that patients can opt for while also taking care to prevent dehydration.

  • Drink lots of water and fluids like buttermilk, coconut water and fresh fruit juices so that you can replenish the body with the lost salts and fluids easily.
  • Herbal remedies such as chamomile, raspberry leaves and blackberry root bark help to cool the stomach and also reduce the frequency of the bowel movement considerably. The frequent stools which are watery, prevent the intestine from absorbing all the nutrients that it requires from the food the patient eats. This deficiency of proteins and vitamins can lead to mal-absorption syndrome which can cause other serious problems in the future. Hence, it is advisable for patients to increase protein intake via food and also take vitamin and mineral supplements to prevent the body from being depleted of the basic nutrients.
  • Acupuncture can be quite helpful in curing idiopathic diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. An experienced and trained acupuncturist can provide effective treatment options for idiopathic diarrhea with acupuncture. However, acupuncture is a time-taking process and you may have to wait for few weeks to get positive results from it.
  • Homeopathy too has worked wonders for several patients suffering from idiopathic diarrhea. Homeopathic medicines such as calcarea carb, mercurius, sulphur and pulsatilla help to normalize the bowel movement to a large extent. These medicines are prescribed after taking the individual cases into consideration and hence consulting a trained homeopath is essential.

For chronic or long standing cases of idiopathic diarrhea, alternative treatment options are often helpful although sometimes it may take time. It is important to note the changes in the symptoms of idiopathic diarrhea and seek medical help, as appropriate.


Idiopathic diarrhea is not a very severe condition and not a major disease that you must worry about. As most of the cases get resolved on its own, giving this disease some time is sometimes the best option. However, it is important to eat healthy and nutritious food when suffering, keep a check of the symptoms and also seek medical advice if need be.

The various conventional treatment options for idiopathic diarrhea which have been mentioned above can also be of great help to the patient.


  1. Mayo Clinic. “Diarrhea – Symptoms and Causes.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352241
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Diarrhea.” https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diarrhea
  3. Cleveland Clinic. “Diarrhea: When Is It Something More Serious?” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4005-diarrhea-when-is-it-something-more-serious

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 1, 2023

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