According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about half of adults over 60 have diverticulitis, in which small pouches that bulge outward from the colon or intestine develop. “They are exceptionally common and linked with aging, low-fiber diets, and chronic constipation, but in most individuals, they cause no issues,” Dr. Levinthal says. But, if one of the pouches becomes inflamed, it can cause diverticulitis, which can cause diarrhea and other symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, and fever. “Acute diverticulitis attacks are most often diagnosed using blood tests and some form of abdominal imaging, such as a CT scan,” Dr. Levinthal says. “Most cases are treatable with antibiotics.” However, diverticulitis can recur, and if you’ve had an episode you should talk to your doctor about the best foods to help avoid another attack. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, in the past you might have been told to avoid certain food thought to get “stuck” in the pouches like popcorn, nuts, and seeds; but recent research has shown no benefit in avoiding these foods. Instead, you’ll probably be recommended a diet high in fiber.
Another way to know the diarrhea causes and symptoms is that you might not suspect that sleep issues have anything to do with chronic diarrhea—but they might. A study from the University of Michigan showed that nurses who work rotating shifts have a higher incidence of bowel problems and pain compared to those working a regular daytime schedule. “There is a clear link between poor sleep and GI tract dysfunction, but the details are not fully understood,” says Dr. Levinthal. “Sleep deprivation may impact bowel function through a few potential means, including alterations in the nerve signals along pathways that link the brain and the gut, changes in hormone levels such as the stress hormone cortisol, and shifts in melanin levels.” Part of being “regular” is having a regular sleep schedule, so your body knows when to go. If your circadian rhythms are off, your gut’s response could be diarrhea. Here’s what else happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep.