A question about diarrhea.

If I eat something that causes diarrhea, how quickly can it go through me. Assuming my system is typical of course.

Well the stuff they have you drink the night before surgery is pretty much be standing in the door of the bathroom when you start chugging it.
So fairly quickly would be my answer.

ETA: Need answer fast?

One of the doctors will probably answer this more specifically, but from my experience performing small bowel follow through exams by having people drink barium, I’ve seen it transit the system in as short as 45 minutes with people with Crohn’s Disease to as long as two days in people taking heavy doses of narcotics.

As far as “typical” goes…I dunno. In order to “prep” for a barium enema, we have people drink sodium citrate. If they’re relativley clean beforehand, the “results” can happen pretty quickly…maybe 30 minutes?

I’d guess there are some kinds of bugs or toxins that might ‘get you going’ quicker. The docs can give you more specifics there.

Are you asking about how rapid the onset of loose stools is, or the transit time or how long the duration of illness would be for an infectious process?

If you drink a gallon or so of an osmotically-acting preparation such as GoLYETLY http://www.nulytely.com/pdf/Golytely_Pres_Info.pdf (mostly polyethylene glycol), you’ll start having loose stools in an hour or so. It would not be unusual to start within 30 minutes depending on what’s currently in your intestinal tract and how fast you can chug it.

Lots of things cause loose stools, so the “something” needs clarification.

I’m asking about the ordinary, everyday, breakfast at your local “greasy spoon” kind of event.
By “typical” I mean like most people.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t clarify it.

Diarrhea can be caused by eating:

**Pre-formed toxins** (staphylococcal toxins, e.g.) where the bacteria were in the food, you ate the food, and got diarrhea.  4-12 hours might be typical.
**Diarrhea-causing organisms** that were in the greasy-spoon food, but that live and multiply in your gut.  Viruses (Norwalk, Rotavirus...) and bacteria (salmonella, campylobacter...) can both do this.  More than 24 hours, typically, for onset of illness b/c the bugs have to have time to multiply.
**Grease.**  Oil causes loose stools (and oily farting, too, which is why Olestra didn't make me a fortune, in my opinion).  Variable onset, but let's say hours.
**Osmotically-active foods** (too much fructose or lactose, e.g.).  A few hours, typically; extremely variable depending on how much of that item you ate and how much else you ate with it and how much stuff was in your gut already.

I am still unsure if your question is time to onset or time til the diarrhea stops. That obviously depends on the cause.

Actually the OP doesn’t need clarification. It stands on it’s own. I think the word “can” removes any room for ambiguity by calling for the fastest time, "go through should point to the start which is usually followed in short time by the finish., and “eating” eliminates any medications or laxitives or the like.
If I seemed to be looking for a diagnosis, I’m sorry. I’m just curious.
I have had times (few and far between) where the period between breakfast and elimination onset was less than 1/2 hour. At least it seams so.

This is probably a different issue. The gastrocolonic reflex is the signal sent out to the system that food is entering it. This can trigger a bowel movement shortly after. But that’s evacuating the remains of the foods from previous meals, not the current one.

We’ve done this topic many times before. Here are a few I’ve found.

Thanks. I must have used the wrong once per lifetime search term. :wink:

So, some typical people might bring on a bit of diarrhea drinking too much black coffee at that greasy spoon, right? This would be an example of diarrhea happening way sooner than the transit time for that coffee.

mangeorge’s protestations to the contrary, his question cannot be answered without clarifying what he’s asking…

His question was how quickly something “that causes diarrhea” (later clarified as possibly from a “greasy spoon”) will go through him, assuming normal physiology.

If, by “diarrhea” he means a (presumably loose) stool of any kind, the answer depends on what he ate, as I mentioned. Most of the time a stool within a short period (certainly less than an hour) following a meal is simply a result of the gastrocolic reflex. You eat something. You poop. What you pooped is not what you just ate. So what you ate has not “gone through you.” It just made you poop, and sometimes that poop is loose, which folks tend to call “diarrhea.” The term “diarrhea” does not have an exact definition, and when we physicians hear lay people use it, we always clarify exactly what they mean by it. (Loose? Frequent? etc)

If he means to ask how long it will take that bolus of what he ate show up as “diarrhea” it depends again on what he ate. Assuming normal physiology (no Irritable Bowel; no malabsorptive syndromes; no Inflammatory Bowel Disease, etc etc) then a normal transit time is somewhere between 12 and 72 hours; this varies markedly from person to person and dietary habit to dietary habit–your own transit times are not fixed, for instance. So if I eat some eggs and peanut shells at a greasy spoon and have normal physiology, I wouldn’t expect to see them peanut shells for at least 12, and more typically, 36 hours (the eggs having been digested for the most part).

If the spoon is literally greasy enough, or if what I consumed had a lot of lactose or fructose, e.g. (and especially if I am intolerant of those) then I might get a looser stool a lot sooner–diarrhea–that includes my meal bolus. Transit time was increased by the fats or by the osmotic effect of what I consumed. You can prove this to yourself by giving your mutt a nice big meal of chocolate and bacon fat. The oils will give him relative malabsorption and he will crap up your house within hours (unless he is used to such a diet).

If, on the other hand, by “diarrhea” you mean something more in the family of illness–(perhaps by “greasy spoon” mangeorge meant to imply unhygienic practices on the part of the restaurant owner) then you might look to my post above for viral and bacterial causes.

Coffee triggers a gastrocolic reflex in a lot of people. I don’t know about “too much” coffee; for me it’s a sip. But Zarathustra is waking up about that time anyway, and between the gastrocolic reflex and the caffeine, it seems to work quite nicely. Fluid in general has a much faster transit time than food boluses, so I guess “too much” black coffee might be considered to produce “diarrhea” depending on the amount. In general the intestines are pretty good at absorbing most of the fluid presented to them, letting the kidneys regulate water balance, though.

S/B “Transit time was decreased…”

Their coffee isn’t strong enough to eat.
But, I think from your post, that the transit time is part of what I’m asking.
Just a minute. I want to see what Chief Pedant has to say.

Ever heard someone say “It must be something I ate”? I have, but I’ve never heard someone say "It must have been (one ot those things mentioned by Chief Pedant) I ate.
Because I was non-specific, the cause of the diarrhea could have been just about anything. And because in the second half of my post I asked "how quickly can it go through me, the assumption would be that I’m asking about the shortest time for the quickest of the possibilities.
You’re having me on (whooshing me) aren’t you, CP? Oh yes you are.

Besides all the obvious reasons that test would be ill-advised, please don’t give the mutt chocolate!

Are you asking what the absolute quickest time food can go through somebody is? In a previous thread (probably one of those already linked by Exapno Mapcase) I was astonished to see that some people with intestinal troubles were pooping out what they’d eaten less than half an hour before. But that’s clearly not a typical case, even with diarrhea.

The “shortest time for the quickest of the possibilities” for something ingested to transit the entire digestive track is about 20-30 minutes for an individual with an already-empty bowel who consumes a large volume of a mostly fluid “meal” full of polyethylene glycol, magnesium sulfate and sorbitol.

The shortest time a more typical meal will pass through a typical person with normal physiology and a normal amount of intestinal content already in the bowel at the time the new meal is eaten is about 12 hours. Take a few hours off that for an outlier.

If the meal in question has a predominately laxative effect, it’s not really a normal meal. The transit time for a meal with a laxative effect depends on what, exactly was ingested. In general the fastest-acting laxatives are those with an osmotic effect. Look up “laxatives” on Wiki and decide what your meal might have contained from that list. If it was just greasy, it would be highly unusual for the meal to pass before 6 hours; if it was a “meal” of polyethylene glycol washed down by milk of magnesia you could blow that “meal” out in 30 minutes. It’s possible, I suppose, for any meal to have some sort of derivative of some sort of chemical that is super-stimulating to the enteric nerves; even bisacodyl taking orally still needs several hours to work. Therefore a request for “the quickest possible time” for “any meal” under the circumstances of normal underlying physiology becomes a contest of manipulating those words to such an extreme that no real practical value to the reader is gained. SDMB post responses often become such contests, degenerating into finer and finer points of more and more extreme possibilities that are technically correct but practically worthless.

If you just have a stool right after a meal–greasy meal or not, and diarrhea or not–what you just dumped was not what you just ate. More likely you had a stool triggered by a gastrocolic reflex. You ate something that stimulated your bowels and you defecated what was already in your colon. This is not the same thing as “going right through you” even though people say that. It still might be “something you ate” in the sense that for some people, some foods trigger a gastrocolic reflex, but the “something you ate” is not the “something that went right through.” It didn’t go through. It made you move your bowels.

The thread I was thinking of is this one, the last one Exapno Mapcase linked to. Having browsed through that list of threads, I must report that terms like “crapping noodles” and “pissing raisin bran out my arse” are bouncing around in my head and just won’t stop.

This thread needs a joke. Quoting Jake from Two and a Half Men: “Corn! It’s like a bookmark in your poop!”

Hey Mangeorge, this is totally striking a bell with me. Touching personal anecdote: at some point a few years ago this weird thing started where about half an hour after eating breakfast in a diner of whatever, I would get the trots real fierce and have to go right away- I even had to adjust my day plans usually so as not to expect to run errands or go shopping between breakfast and the bathroom. It sucked when I was out with pals, and would only happen at weekend brunches, it seemed. After a long while I managed to pin it on eating eggs, but only eggs with runny yolks or hollandaise: well cooked scrambled eggs and hard boiled eggs don’t seem to cause the same reaction. So my best guess is that I have a mild adult-onset allergy to eggs, probably picked up during the couple of years in which I had pet chickens in the back yard.