Diarrhea after Eating

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The condition of loose or runny stools is known as diarrhea. In and of itself, diarrhea is not a dangerous unless it lasts for more than a day or two; then it can lead to complications. Generally, diarrhea is an uncomfortable and embarrassing condition that impedes our activities and lifestyles if left untreated. One common circumstance is recurring diarrhea which appears after eating. Diarrhea after eating can have a variety of causes.

Causes of Diarrhea after Eating

Diarrhea can be caused by a number of things, including a stomach virus, stress, food allergies, food poisoning, and a number of disorders of the abdominal region. If diarrhea consistently occurs after eating, the cause is most likely one of a few factors. The first of these is irritable bowel syndrome, which affects about 20% of the population. This condition, although not dangerous, can be accompanied with abdominal discomfort and gas.

Second, lactose intolerance can cause a similar problem if the individual eats food containing lactose, such as sugar or milk products. Similarly, gluten products will stimulate diarrhea if the individual consumes gluten-containing foods, such as wheat, barley or semolina. Finally, food poisoning can also cause diarrhea. If foods contain certain bacteria, the reaction will be fairly immediate.


Regardless of the cause of diarrhea after eating, related symptoms are the same. The afflicted individual will present with loose and watery stools and frequently experience incontinence or an urgent need to release the bowels. Additional symptoms usually seen with diarrhea include cramping, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and gas. In some, bloating and abdominal distension may also occur. These symptoms are generally temporary and disappear as the diarrhea abates. Very often bloating and cramping will occur first, serving as a warning that he will be experiencing diarrhea and a bowel movement will aid in relieving the painful symptoms.

Treatment for Diarrhea

Treatments for this issue are generally the same regardless of cause. The first step is usually a change in diet. Irritable bowel syndrome is generally likely to be affected by rich, heavy, or greasy foods. An individual diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome will be more successful in avoiding symptoms if on a diet that avoids foods that cause gas and fiber supplements. If sensitive to particular foods, such as lactose or gluten, the individual should work with a physician to build an eating plan that avoids these foods but still supplies the necessary nutrients.

Finally, if the cause is food poisoning, the operative treatment is time. The diarrhea sufferer should drink fluids to avoid dehydration but the symptoms will pass once the system is emptied of the contaminated food. If symptoms continue, a physician should be consulted. Also available and proven effective are over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicines.


National Digestive Disease Information Clearning House (NDDIC) - Diarrhea

Mayo Clinic - Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Additional Articles of Interest:

Lactose Intolerance and Halitosis by Victoria Trix

Foods to Avoid with Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Margo