Watery stool Aqueous diarrhea - causes and therapy

Watery stool Aqueous diarrhea - causes and therapy / symptoms
Extremely fluid defecation, which contains hardly any solid components, is also known as watery stool or watery diarrhea. This may, for example, be related to food intake, but may also be due to serious illnesses. Since the fluid loss is significantly increased in aqueous diarrhea, threatens dehydration (internal dehydration) of those affected with long-term occurrence. Accordingly, a doctor should urgently be consulted in this case.


  • definition
  • symptoms
  • Causes of watery diarrhea
  • Food intolerance and food allergies
  • Infectious diseases as a cause
  • Watery stool due to inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancers in the digestive area
  • Cause irritable bowel syndrome
  • Change of stool due to poisoning
  • Drug side effects
  • diagnosis
  • therapy
  • Treatment for food intolerance and food intolerance
  • Appropriate measures for bacterial infections
  • Conventional medicine for chronic inflammatory bowel disease
  • Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Therapy for poisoning
  • cancer therapy
  • Naturopathy in a watery bowel movement
  • Other effective home remedies for liquid bowel movements


By medical definition, diarrhea contains a significantly higher proportion of water (at least 75 percent) compared to "normal" bowel movements. Aqueous chair is characterized by an even higher water content, but it is not a medically clearly defined term. Rather, watery stools are an extreme form of diarrhea.

There are many forms of diarrhea. Watery bowel movement is characterized by a particularly high water content. (Image: nito / fotolia.com)

Decisive is the appearance. Although diarrhea, for example in the form of steatorrhea, may be extremely fluid, it can not be watery. Possible forms of diarrhea that can lead to this are osmotic diarrhea (due to changes in osmotic pressure, water is drawn from the intestinal mucosa) and secretory diarrhea (the intestinal mucosa releases more water of its own accord). Furthermore, the exudative diarrhea (caused by inflammation of the intestinal mucosa) and the hypermotile diarrhea (decreased fluid intake of the intestine by increased bowel movements or peristalsis) come into consideration. Watery bowel movements can occur as acute symptoms, but also in chronic form.


Watery bowel movement is characterized mainly by the altered consistency of the chair. Typsch is a sudden onset of urgency, which is often accompanied by abdominal pain. Sufferers have to go to the toilet much more often than usual and often suffer from fecal incontinence as the sphincter can not hold the extremely fluid chair.

The concomitant symptoms are directly influenced by the causes of the diarrhea. Common symptoms include, in addition to abdominal pain for example, an uncomfortable stomach pressure, bloated abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

The fluid loss or the resulting dehydration can also bring more serious complaints. Thus, watery diarrhea, especially in babies or infants and in already weakened patients is a very serious symptoms.

Causes of watery diarrhea

As trigger for watery stools numerous factors are considered. The spectrum ranges from food intolerances to acute infectious diseases to chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease. According to the respective diseases, a wide variety of accompanying symptoms can occur.

Often, incompatibilities such as Fructose intolerance is the cause of watery bowel movements. Fructose-rich fruits and vegetables can cause massive discomfort here. (Image: vasiliumosise / fotolia.com)

Food intolerance and food allergies

The various forms of food intolerance are relatively often triggers of the complaints, with particular reference to fructose intolerance and lactose intolerance.

Fructose intolerance is characterized by impaired fructose degradation. As a result, undigested fructose increasingly enters the large intestine causing symptoms such as flatulence, abdominal pain and watery diarrhea.

Similar are the processes in lactose intolerance, which is characterized by impairments of lactose degradation (lactose degradation). In this way, the lactose is increasingly undigested in the colon and causes corresponding digestive problems.

In a food allergy, the symptoms do not go back to a too low degradation of certain ingredients of the food, but the body shows on certain foods an overreaction of the immune system. Common triggers include peanuts and other nuts. Diarrhea is often just one of many symptoms here. Concomitant mucosal swelling in the mouth and nasopharynx and sometimes skin reactions in the form of nettle fever are typical.

The respiratory tract can be affected, resulting in an increased Hustreiz and possibly respiratory distress. In the worst case, the intake of allergens can lead to a so-called allergic shock, which is life-threatening for those affected. Also a histamine intolerance should be clarified.

Infectious diseases as a cause

Both bacterial and viral, mycogenic and parasitic infections of the digestive tract can lead to watery diarrhea. Particularly often behind the complaints is an infestation with bacteria. Thus, for example, the so-called "bacterial dysentery", which is caused by bacteria of the genus Shigella, known as a possible trigger.

Salmonella infection causes severe, liquid diarrhea. (Image: fotoliaxrender / fotolia.com)

Pathogens of the genus Escherichia coli, which were responsible for the EHEC epidemic in Germany in 2011, can cause watery diarrhea. Other possible causes include infection with Campylobacter bacteria or Salmonella. Numerous other bacterial genera come as potential trigger for the complaints into consideration, whereby the limitation of the pathogens on the one hand by the wide range of pathological germs and on the other by the similarity of the symptoms is often much more difficult.

The typical accompanying symptoms include in most bacterial infections of the digestive tract abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever and nausea to vomiting. Although the level of the fever gives a slight indication of the underlying infection, reliable conclusions can not be made on this basis.

In addition, not only bacteria, but also various parasites, viruses and fungi can affect the intestine, the symptoms are often comparable to those of a bacterial infection. For example, a tapeworm infection can also cause indigestion and watery bowel movements as well as infection with so-called Lamblien (unicellular parasites). The same applies to the pathological propagation of yeasts (Candida) in the intestinal area, which can occur, for example, as a result of disturbances of the natural intestinal flora.

In the case of viral infections of the digestive tract such as, for example, a norovirus or rotavirus infection, particularly severe acute forms of gastroenteritis (vomiting diarrhea) can often be detected. This also applies to some systemic viral infectious diseases such as Marburg fever, Ebola or yellow fever. Malaria is another possible cause of watery bowel movements. Although these diseases are not common in Germany, they may be introduced by travelers.

Watery stool due to inflammatory bowel disease

Triggers may be chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. These not only cause gastrointestinal discomfort in the form of abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea, but can also manifest in other physical conditions such as eye inflammation, arthritis or skin irritation.

The exact causes of intestinal diseases Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are still unclear. (Image: bilderzwerg / fotolia.com)

There are numerous risk factors for the occurrence of a CED, such as Smoking and mental stress or stress known. Nevertheless, the specific causes of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are still unclear. This also applies to the so-called "collagenous colitis". This is a special inflammation of the large intestine, in which watery diarrhea forms one of the main symptoms.

Cancers in the digestive area

Another possible cause may be cancers of the digestive tract and organs involved in the digestion. In colon cancer, for example, a change between constipation and severe diarrhea is often detectable. Special cancers of the pancreas in the form of Verner-Morrison syndrome are also associated with watery bowel movements.

The symptoms of the cancer are chronic and tending to increase symptoms during the course of the disease. In addition to diarrhea (possibly with blood in the stool), unspecific signs of cancer such as flatulence or abdominal pain can be added.

Cause irritable bowel syndrome

If no physical causes for changes in stool consistency can be established, the symptoms may be due to a so-called "irritable bowel syndrome". This is a functional bowel disease, the triggers of which are not yet fully understood. It is believed to be related to mental stress as well as other factors such as a past gastroenteritis, changes in bowel movements and impaired intestinal flora discussed. The effect on the bowel movement can be very different for the affected patients and can range from constipation to severe diarrhea.

Change of stool due to poisoning

As a trigger of the low-viscosity chair, various forms of poisoning come into consideration. The poison of the green tuberous toadstool, for example, can cause prolonged watery diarrhea accompanied by severe nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps. The symptoms of fungus poisoning due to the consumption of spring-shells are comparable. In both cases, severe damage to the liver and kidneys is imminent.

Fungal poisoning, e.g. The spring poisonous torch can cause severe symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and convulsions. (Image: Tarabalu / fotolia.com)

Poisoning with other toxic substances, e.g. Selenium or ricin may cause watery diarrhea. Selenium is needed in small amounts by the body to prevent deficiency symptoms, but it is toxic in higher doses. Those affected suffer from chronic fatigue and muscle weakness. Sensations such as tingling in the limbs, skin irritations, hair loss and watery diarrhea are also possible. Partially fall out the affected the finger and toenails.

Significantly more serious is a poisoning with ricin contained in the seed coat of the Wunderbaums. The poison is usually inadvertently ingested by the casualty when it is consumed with castor bean seeds and subsequently causes the death of those cells in the digestive tract that come into contact with the poison. The result is severe damage to the stomach, intestines, liver and kidneys.

Typical symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, as well as strong palpitations and muscle spasms in the hands and legs. In the end, a deadly circulatory collapse threatens. Ricin is lethal even in relatively low doses. However, poisoning with the protein as a whole is extremely rare.

Many other toxins can also cause indigestion and thin stools. Accordingly, there should urgently be a review in this direction as part of the medical examination. Last but not least, alcohol is a poison that can be responsible for the complaints.

Drug side effects

Sometimes taking certain medicines is responsible for the symptoms. The intake of antibiotics may, for example, result in a so-called "antibiotic-associated colitis". This arises as soon as the intestinal flora is disturbed in such a way that bacteria of the genus Clostridium difficile multiply pathologically. The cause of the inflammation of the intestine are the toxins released by the bacteria. Numerous other medicines can have a side effect of watery diarrhea, with incorrect dosage of laxatives is also expected.


Given the wide range of possible causes, the diagnosis is often relatively difficult. First, the stool frequency and consistency as well as any accompanying symptoms are inquired to gain a first impression of the condition of the patients. Further information is provided by the doctor about possible pre-existing conditions, ingested medicines, nutrition and recent stays abroad.

This is followed by a first palpation and listening of the abdomen. Depending on how serious the condition of the patient is, it may be necessary to have immediate treatment after these first diagnostic steps. This is the case, for example, with signs of dehydration. To further limit the symptoms, examinations of stool samples are carried out.

Other important indications for the diagnosis may include a blood test and imaging techniques such as an ultrasound scan or special x-ray based contrast imaging. Finally, colonoscopy should be mentioned as an important diagnostic tool for watery diarrhea. Further investigations such as e.g. an allergy or lactose intolerance test or environmental investigations to identify toxins will be carried out as needed.


Basically, the treatment is based on the cause of the complaints. Regardless, however, it requires a balance of fluid and electrolyte loss. With activated charcoal and the active ingredient loperamide can also be addressed in the short term against the symptom "watery stool".

Treatment for food intolerance and food intolerance

In the case of food intolerance or food intolerance, it is important to avoid the causative agents. With special diets, those affected can usually proceed relatively efficiently against the complaints. The prerequisite is, however, that the respective triggers are previously determined exactly.

In antibiotic-associated colitis, avoidance of the causative drug is also critical to the success of the therapy. The bacteria of the genus Clostridium difficile, whose pathological propagation is the cause of inflammation, can be directly controlled with special antibiotics. Often, however, suffer the victims after a first successful repression of the germs relapse, making a new drug treatment is required. Additionally and prophylactically one can support the intestinal flora with a yeast - Saccharomyces boulardii - or with Lactobazillen.

Appropriate measures for bacterial infections

If bacterial infections are the cause, mostly antibiotics are used. It should be noted, however, that in certain bacterial genera with their death toxins are released, which in turn can cause further discomfort. Therefore, a limitation of the pathogens must be made.

Parasitic infections of the digestive tract can usually be reliably treated by medication. For example, so-called anthelminthics are used against worm diseases. More difficult is the situation with viral infections. Remedies can usually only be alleviated with the help of medicines. Direct treatment of the virus infection is not possible.

Conventional medicine for chronic inflammatory bowel disease

The treatment of chronic inflammatory bowel disease is usually relatively difficult and a cure is based on the current treatment options by no means guaranteed. Many sufferers suffer from recurring episodes throughout their lives. In the acute case, however, various remedies can help alleviate the symptoms, with cortisone playing a key role. Over a relatively high dosage over a short period of time, the inflammatory reaction in the intestine is to be contained and the acute thrust to be broken.

Dietary changes and the avoidance of risk factors such as Smoking sometimes contributes to the reduction of symptoms. If necessary, those affected will be fed temporarily via infusions or a nasogastric tube. If structural changes in the intestine, such as intestinal stenosis, have developed during the course of the disease, surgical intervention remains the last option in an emergency.

In a collagenous colitis, the high-dose administration of cortisone to break the inflammatory thrust is also usually a major component of conventional medical treatment.

If irritable bowel syndrome is associated with mental stress, psychotherapy can be very helpful. (Image: Svyatoslav Lypynskyy / fotolia.com)

Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome

In the case of irritable bowel syndrome targeted therapy of the causes is not yet possible because they are still largely unclear. The symptoms may vary significantly, requiring the use of different therapeutic measures. However, previously available drugs remain of dubious effect or were withdrawn from the market partly due to the threat of side effects.

Various herbal agents such as e.g. Extracts of balm leaves or peppermint oil can cause relief. In many patients, success also promises psychotherapy, especially if there are conspicuous connections between the onset of the illness and psychological stress.

A change in diet can help, especially if in the context of the disease, a so-called "small intestinal deficiency colonization" (settlement of "false" bacteria in the small intestine) is recognizable. General improvements in lifestyle - for example, by sufficient physical exercise and a controlled sleep rhythm - can develop positive effects in irritable bowel syndrome.

Therapy for poisoning

The treatment of poisoning is dependent on the toxins ingested and the past period since ingestion. If little time has passed, toxins that are still in the stomach can be specifically eliminated by inducing vomiting. Subsequent gastric irrigation is also helpful. Activated carbon has the property of binding toxins in the digestive tract so that they can subsequently be excreted.

If the intake of toxic substances is longer, a high-dose administration of activated charcoal will attempt to tackle the poisoning. In the case of mushroom poisoning, specific antivenoms are available for individual fungi that can be used for treatment. However, this does not apply to all fungal poisoning. Other forms of poisoning, such as selenosis, can not be targeted. Here, the treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms or stabilizing the patients.

cancer therapy

If cancer is the cause of watery bowel movements, the cancer is often already at an advanced stage. Accordingly, the therapeutic options are limited to surgical procedures for the removal of the affected tissue and chemo- and / or radiotherapy. The treatment prospects vary widely among the different cancers and are strongly influenced by the individual condition of the patients. Supplementary therapeutic measures may be available to strengthen the immune system and improve the constitution.

Naturopathy in a watery bowel movement

Naturopathy offers various options for the relief of fluid stools and can often be used specifically against certain causes of the symptoms. First, however, it is necessary to balance the loss of fluid and electrolyte. Here Professor Dr. In his book "Using Naturopathy Correctly" by Werner Exel, he uses a self-mixed electrolyte solution, which quickly supplies the body with the necessary nutrients.

Recipe for electrolyte solution:

  1. Squeeze out five oranges
  2. In the juice, add six teaspoons of glucose and one teaspoon of table salt
  3. Stir the ingredients carefully
  4. Fill the mixture with boiled water to at least one liter
  5. Of these, several liters should be drunk during the day

Among the medicinal plants that can act directly against watery diarrhea include, according to the experts, for example, bloodwort (Tormentill) and dried blueberries.

Recipe for tormentil tea

  1. Pour a teaspoon of Tormentill with 200ml of boiling water
  2. Allow the infusion to strain for about 5 minutes before straining
  3. For acute complaints, drink a cup of the tea twice a day

A blend of chamomile flowers, caraway fruits, thyme leaves, mallow leaves, marigold blossoms and blackberry leaves has also proved its worth.

Schuessler salts and homeopathic remedies offer natural help. (Image: PhotoSG / fotolia.com)

Homeopathy offers, for example, Podophyllum, Arsenicum album and Magnesium sulphuricum for the treatment of ailments. From the area of ​​the Schüssler salt therapy the salts No. 3 (Ferrum phosphoricum) and No. 7 (Magnesium phosphoricum) are recommended for the treatment of acute digestive problems. If no noticeable improvement can be seen after three days at the latest, you should urgently consult with a doctor about further therapeutic measures.

Other effective home remedies for liquid bowel movements

Enemas and bowel rehabilitation can be used against diarrhea. In order to build up a healthy intestinal flora, however, the digestive organ must first be thoroughly cleaned. As a home remedy for natural colon cleanse, for example, offer psyllium or healing earth. Tea blends with bitter plants such as dandelion, nettle or artichoke support the body in the displacement of harmful intestinal bacteria. Alternatively, bittertropfen concentrates (herbal bitters) or ready-made Swedish bitters from the pharmacy can serve well.

The naturopathic treatment methods against watery diarrhea and other gastrointestinal complaints are discussed in detail in the "Healing Practices Guide for the stomach and intestine". Here you can buy the guide.

In diseases such as antibiotic-associated colitis promises a so-called "stool transplantation" relief and has therefore established itself in conventional medicine. Nutritional therapy can make a significant contribution to alleviating the discomfort, with individual diseases such as e.g. Crohn's disease specific diet models have been developed. Even in the case of cancer, naturopathy - for example with mistletoe therapy - can be very helpful for the accompanying treatment.

Overall, naturopathy offers a very broad spectrum of possible applications against watery diarrhea and its causes. However, the selection of appropriate procedures is highly dependent on the individual condition of those affected. Therefore, BEFORE the application is urgently consulted a qualified therapist or doctor. From a self-treatment for a long time, despite numerous home remedies for diarrhea is urgently advised against. (fp, nr, last updated on 13.10.2016)
Specialist supervision: Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch (doctor)