What causes gas and liquid stools?

Diarrhea and excess gas may be symptoms of intestinal disorders. Save sign for access to toilets.unisex.toilet access.wc image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com

The presence of intestinal gas and liquid stool (diarrhea) frequently occur simultaneously in a variety of diseases and disorders. Incomplete digestion is normally causes diarrhea. As undigested food reaches the large intestine, colonic bacteria break down the food producing gas. Functional disorders of the colon can also affect consistency of stool and gas production. Since many disorders can cause diarrhea and gas, an accurate diagnosis is crucial to establish an effective treatment strategy.

Irritable bowel syndrome

The irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized by intermittent abdominal pain or cramping discomfort accompanied by gas, bloating and diarrhea or constipation. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) estimates that about 20 percent of the US population has occasional symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

The disorder disproportionately affects women. Although the mechanisms that trigger irritable bowel syndrome remain in research, it is evident that colonic muscle overactivity causes diarrhea. Certain foods can intensify symptoms of irritable bowel including caffeinated tea, coffee and soda, hearty meals, chocolate, alcohol, dairy products, rye, barley and wheat syndrome.

Excessive stress and emotional disturbances can also precipitate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. This disease does not endanger life and also is associated with an increased risk of ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or colorectal cancer.

Lactose intolerance

A low concentration of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine causes the lactose intolerance. Lactose, or milk sugar, is too large to be absorbed by the small intestine. Fragmenting enzyme lactase lactose molecules smaller sugars which facilitates intestinal absorption.

Many people have a decreased production of lactase as they reach adolescence and adulthood. When the amount of milk or milk products consumed exceeds the available amount of lactase in the small intestine, undigested lactose causes intestinal symptoms, this is known as lactose intolerance.

Symptoms include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and intestinal gas. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that lactose intolerance is more common in African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans compared to those of European descent. This disorder is rare in children.

pancreatic insufficiency

Disorders that interfere with the digestion of dietary nutrients can cause diarrhea and gas. The pancreas produces the majority of digestive enzymes into the intestine. Proteases, amylases and lipases degrade proteins, starches and fats, respectively.

Deficient production or release of pancreatic digestive enzymes leaves large amounts of undigested food in the large and small intestine. This undigested food precipitated an increase in the amount of intestinal gas and diarrhea.

The medical reference book "Principles of Medicine Harrison" (Harrison's Principles of Medicine) specifies that the possible causes of pancreatic insufficiency are chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic tumors, abdominal radiotherapy, cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency and Shwachman syndrome.