Having Loose Stools for A Week? Here Are 11 Likely Causes

If you’ve been having loose stools for a week, you’re just on the right page. This post reveals the basics about loose stools and their common causes — and why they sometimes like for as long as a week. Read on to learn more.

Loose stools can be quite inconveniencing because they frequently occur after eating and often come with a sense of urgency. They’re usually watery, mushy and tend to have a foul or strong odor. Generally, loose stools are caused by abnormal bowel movements which can be triggered by a range of factors.

Before we proceed, it’s important to know the difference between loose stools and diarrhea as they’re often used interchangeably by many people. People who have diarrhea usually have watery stools but having watery stools from time to time isn’t always a symptom of diarrhea.

You have diarrhea when you have loose stools several times a day but loose stools occur mainly after eating and can last for up to a week.

Loose Stools for a Week: Common Causes Revealed

So what are the reasons people have loose stools? Here’s a look at 11 common causes.

loose stools for a week

1. Choice of food and drinks

Some foods can cause the contraction and relaxation of intestinal muscles which can lead to loose stools. For example, coffee is a common cause of loose stools as its acidity causes the body to produce more bile than it usually does. The same goes for milk-based products which usually contain high levels of lactose and sugar alcohols which can be found in some fruits, vegetables, and artificial flavorings. Going further, consuming the following can cause loose stools:

  • alcohol
  • oily foods
  • spicy foods
  • coffee
  • magnesium

2. Food poisoning

Viruses, bacteria and parasites are causative agents of food poisoning. Eating foods that are undercooked, stored too long at room temperature or not reheated properly can lead to contamination which may result in food poisoning. The resultant effect is inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome is an intestinal disorder that affects the large intestine and causes pain. If you’re suffering from IBS, you’re likely to experience diarrhea and loose stools which are common symptoms of the syndrome. Other symptoms that usually accompany this syndrome are:

  • stomach pain
  • gas
  • constipation
  • bloating cramps

4. Medications

Have you been using herbal remedies or medications which contain magnesium hydroxide? Chances are that they’re the cause of the loose stools you’ve been experiencing. While the medications may be effective against what you’re treating, loose stools might be the side effect due to the presence of magnesium hydroxide. Here are some of the medications (or supplements) that could be the cause:

  • antacids which contain magnesium hydroxide
  • antibiotics
  • chemotherapy
  • magnesium
  • senna

Some studies suggest that taking probiotics can help prevent loose stools when you take antibiotics. You might want to confirm this information from your doctor before trying it out.

5. Dumping syndrome

Common with people who have had weight loss surgery or gastric surgery, Dumping Syndrome is a condition where food moves from the stomach to the small intestine quickly. The swift movement of food typically results in loose stools. Some of the symptoms of Dumping Syndrome are:

  • stomach cramps or pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fast heartbeat
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • feeling dull after eating a small amount of food

6. Bile acid malabsorption

When the liver and gallbladder suffer several disorders, it can have a negative effect on their normal functioning.  Bile acid malabsorption occurs when the body can’t properly breakdown the fats in the intestine for absorption which can lead to loose stools. This condition is common among people with gallstones or liver cirrhosis. Other symptoms are:

  • bloating
  • cramps
  • pain
  • gas

7. Celiac disease

People who are suffering from celiac disease and eat products like bread, pasta, and baked goods are likely to have loose stools. These foods contain gluten, a protein, which can be difficult to process for people with the disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which consuming gluten leads to an inflammation of the small intestine. Some symptoms of the disease include:

  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal bloating
  • gas
  • constipation
  • indigestion
  • skin irritation
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • headaches, malabsorption

8. Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

Sometimes, the thyroid gland may become overactive and produce too many hormones than necessary which can disrupt its normal metabolism in the body. When the hormones are too much, it can affect the normal functioning of your body and lead to loose stools. Other symptoms of this condition include:

  • weight loss
  • thin skin and hair
  • sleep problems
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • fast heartbeat
  • trembling
  • erratic body temperature
  • swelling around the neck

9. Crohn’s disease

Crohn disease is a long-term condition that involves the digestive tract. It occurs when the digestive system becomes inflamed which can result in loose stools. Other symptoms of the disease are:

  • abdominal pain
  • blood in fecal matter
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • vomiting
  • fever

10. Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation in the colon and rectum. Individuals suffering from this condition often experience loose stools. They may also have:

  • abdominal pain
  • frequent bowel movements
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • mouth ulcers
  • joint pain
  • skin irritation
  • eye irritation
  • fever

11. Chronic pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis occurs when there’s an inflammation in the pancreas which interferes in the body’s ability to absorb fats, starches, and proteins. People with this condition experience loose stools. Other symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are:

  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Wrap up

Having loose stools is not uncommon as people from all groups can experience because it is chiefly caused by what you eat. You should feel some relief within two or three days of experiencing it. However, the case is not the same for people who have some health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, hyperthyroidism, and bile acid absorption among several others. Such people may need to get in touch with their doctor.