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Why Do I Have Diarrhea Every Morning? Causes And Solutions

Published on
Updated on
Why Do I Have Diarrhea Every Morning? Causes And Solutions

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Diarrhea happens to almost everyone and can be a reflection of poor food choices, stress, or an underlying food intolerance or condition.
  • Tips like keeping a food diary, doing an elimination diet, taking a probiotic, and learning stress management may help resolve your morning diarrhea.
  • A dietitian can help you determine what’s causing your morning diarrhea and make a plan for how to manage it.

Diarrhea is a common digestive concern.

It can be a problem that goes away on its own after a couple of days, or it may linger for several weeks.

Having a watery stool in the morning may be a symptom of poor dietary habits, food intolerances, medication side effects, stress, or an underlying medication condition. 

Discover the causes of morning diarrhea, how to differentiate between acute and chronic diarrhea, how to manage morning diarrhea and prevention strategies. 

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Why Do I Have Morning Diarrhea?

Healthcare professionals define diarrhea as having a watery stool three or more times a day.

Almost everyone experiences diarrhea at some time, as many things can cause it. 

Along with having a loose stool, diarrhea can cause symptoms such as:

  • Urgent need to use the bathroom.
  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Loss of control over bowel movement.
  • Nausea.
  • Abdominal pain. 

Many things can cause morning diarrhea.

Some may cause acute diarrhea that only lasts a couple of days, while others may cause chronic diarrhea that lasts several weeks. 

Poor Diet Habits

Poor diet habits, such as too much caffeine or alcohol, may cause you to have morning diarrhea. 

Alcohol has an inflammatory effect on the intestines and can cause disruptions in your gut microbiome.

These effects can cause you to have diarrhea the morning after drinking alcohol, especially if you over-drink or already have an irritable bowel disorder

Caffeine has a stimulant effect on the digestive system and can also cause inflammation.

The combination of these two effects can sometimes cause diarrhea, particularly if you already have a sensitive system.

Food Intolerances or Allergies

Food intolerance is when your body can’t digest a food or a component of that food.

For example, if you have a lactose intolerance, you lack the enzyme that breaks down lactose.

Therefore, when you eat lactose, you may get diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. 

Common food intolerances include:

  • Lactose.
  • Fructose.
  • Sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol).

Food allergy is when your immune system abnormally responds to a food.

Having a food allergy is more severe but only affects about 1–2% of adults, whereas food intolerances affect up to 20% of the population. 

Both conditions can cause similar symptoms (stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea), but some food allergies can be life-threatening. 

Common food allergies include:

  • Cow’s milk.
  • Soy.
  • Cereal grains.
  • Eggs.
  • Seafood.
  • Wheat. 
  • Peanuts and tree nuts. 

Medication Side Effects

Almost all medications can cause changes to your bowel movements, either diarrhea or constipation, but some medications are more likely to cause diarrhea.

These include:

  • Laxatives.
  • Antacids.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Metformin.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

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Stress

Having chronic stress can have detrimental effects on your overall health. 

When you’re experiencing stress, your body releases hormones to help you cope.

These hormones can be helpful when you need to meet a deadline or avoid danger.

However, if your body is always releasing stress hormones, they can negatively affect your body. 

Some signs you may have too much stress include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Headaches.
  • Weight changes.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Lack of focus, energy, or tiredness.
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Upset stomach. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, meaning that there is a problem with how your gut and brain work together. 

It can cause your digestive system to be more sensitive and may change the rate at which food moves through the digestive tract, causing changes to your stools.

IBS causes a group of symptoms that occur together. They include:

Experts are not yet certain what causes IBS but have noticed a connection between IBS and people having other conditions such as mental disorders, bacterial infections, food intolerances, or having lived through a traumatic event. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Both conditions are characterized by inflammation in the digestive tract.

Crohn’s disease can affect all areas of the GI system, whereas ulcerative colitis only occurs in the large intestines and rectum. 

Common symptoms of IBD include:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Blood in stools.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weight loss.

The exact cause of IBD is not yet clear but it may be due to genetics or a weak immune system that overreacts to triggers. 

Infection

One of the most common causes of lingering diarrhea is an infection.

Bacteria and viruses can both cause gastrointestinal infections.

You can get these from another person or contaminated food or drinks.

The most common viral and bacterial infections include:

  • Norovirus.
  • Rotavirus.
  • Viral gastroenteritis.
  • Campylobacter.
  • Escherichia coli (E.coli).
  • Salmonella.
  • Shigella.

Having a GI infection can also cause other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and sometimes blood in the stool.

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Parasites

Ingesting parasites through contaminated food or water can cause an infection in your digestive system.

The most common parasite infections include:

  • Cryptosporidium enteritis.
  • Entamoeba histolytica.
  • Giardia lamblia.

Differentiating Between Acute and Chronic Diarrhea

Differentiating between acute and chronic diarrhea depends on how long you have had diarrhea symptoms. 

  • Acute diarrhea: Acute diarrhea typically only lasts one or two days and goes away on its own.
  • Persistent diarrhea: Persistent diarrhea lasts over two weeks but goes away before four weeks. 
  • Chronic diarrhea: Chronic diarrhea lasts at least four weeks, and symptoms may appear every day or come and go.  

Managing Morning Diarrhea

The management of your morning diarrhea depends on what is causing it.

Below are several methods for how to manage morning diarrhea. 

Keep a Food Diary

If you have food intolerances or allergies, keeping a food diary can help give you an idea of what foods may trigger your diarrhea.

Keep track of what you eat and drink each day, and note how you feel and your bowel movements. 

A food diary is also a great tool to show your healthcare provider. 

Asking them to review a record of what you ate and drank may help them determine an underlying cause of your morning diarrhea.

Try an Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is removing food or groups of food from your diet to determine if they’re causing your digestive symptoms.

You’ll remove foods or food groups based on the symptoms you’ve been having after eating. 

One process is to eliminate common allergens or food intolerances for several weeks before reintroducing them one at a time back into your diet and seeing how your symptoms change.

It’s a good idea to do an elimination diet under the guidance of your healthcare provider or a licensed dietitian.

They can give personalized guidance on how to safely complete an elimination diet.

Take Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that help enhance your gut microbiome.

Experts are still researching the effects probiotics have on treating diarrhea. 

Consider talking to your healthcare provider or dietitian about taking a probiotic for your morning diarrhea. 

Manage Your Stress Levels

When stress starts affecting your health, it’s important to learn healthy strategies to manage your stress levels.

  • Get some exercise: Physical activity is a great way to have a chemical release in your body that helps you feel better. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity to experience the full health benefits of physical activity. 
  • Do something enjoyable: Take a break to do something you really enjoy. This can include crafting, socializing, or visiting a new museum in your neighborhood. 
  • Learn new ways to relax: Try something new, like tai chi, yoga, or meditation. There are plenty of apps and Youtube videos that are free. 
  • Prioritize adequate sleep: Getting enough sleep at night can help you think more clearly and have more energy. 
  • Eat a balanced diet: Plan meals that contain plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. 
  • Talk with a loved one: Talk with someone you love and trust and let them know how you are feeling. 

Consult Your Medical Provider for a Proper Diagnosis

It’s a good idea to consult your medical provider if morning diarrhea persists for several days or is accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Fever and chills.
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy.
  • Bloody stool.
  • Vomiting.

Prevention

To prevent morning diarrhea, make healthy dietary choices and avoid too much caffeine or alcohol.

Keep a food journal to help you learn if you have food intolerances or allergies. 

To prevent a foodborne infection, make sure to wash your hands before and during food preparation and after using the restroom.

If traveling, depending on where you are going, you may need to avoid tap water, eating from street vendors, and eating undercooked foods.

If you have an underlying medical condition causing diarrhea, talk with your healthcare professional or dietitian on how to better manage your condition. 

Takeaway

Everyone gets diarrhea at some point. While most of the time it goes away on its own, sometimes it can linger.

Eating a balanced diet, tracking your food, and adapting some healthy habits can help treat and prevent future diarrhea.

If morning diarrhea persists, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider. 

How a Dietitian Can Help

A gut health dietitian can help address morning diarrhea by providing personalized dietary guidance and tailoring a nutrition plan based on your needs and preferences. 

They may guide you through an elimination diet to pinpoint food intolerances or allergies and help you get to the root cause of your morning diarrhea. 

You can find a dietitian that accepts insurance through Nourish—the appointments are online and covered by insurance. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you worry about diarrhea?

Most diarrhea resolves on its own in a couple of days.

However, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider about diarrhea that lingers for several days or is accompanied by symptoms such as fever, chills, blood in the stool, vomiting, or feeling lightheaded.

What is the most common cause of diarrhea?

Medication side effects and food-borne illnesses are the most common causes of diarrhea.

Other reasons can include food intolerances, food allergies, stress, poor dietary habits, or having an underlying condition.

What foods stop diarrhea fast?

Eating a bland diet that consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast can help your digestive tract repair and stop the diarrhea.

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