Morning diarrhea: Causes, treatment, and prevention

morning diarrheaMorning diarrhea is described as the urgent need to have a bowel movement upon waking up in the morning as well as having stool that is loose and watery. In some cases, the need to go to the washroom early in the morning wakes a person up. There could be a simple reason for diarrhea in the morning or it could be a sign of a more serious health condition.

People experience diarrhea from time to time and it is often due to diet or even a temporary illness. However, if you experience urgent diarrhea every morning, you should consider seeking medical attention to determine the cause.

Lifestyle reasons for morning diarrhea


Bowel movements tend to occur during the day when people are active. Normal bowel activity usually slows down when a person is at rest. A healthy person feels the urge to have a bowel movement shortly after waking up and moving around, but with morning diarrhea, there is an urgent need to have a bowel movement upon waking.

There are a number of lifestyle reasons for diarrhea in the morning, including those listed here:

  • Circadian rhythm changes: When the body clock or circadian rhythm is interrupted, certain physical processes happen at unusual times.
  • Hormone levels: Changes in the body during waking hours that keep the body more alert can impact bowels. This includes hormonal changes or changes in nerve activity.
  • Physical activity: If a person is really physically active just prior to going to bed, it could mean the bowels activate earlier than expected.
  • Midnight snacking: Eating late at night can take a toll on the body.
  • Bacterial activity: Bacteria can increase since the contents are stagnant while people are sleeping and sometimes, digestive enzymes are not reaching the lower bowels.
  • Milk or juice: These are common drinks that can irritate the stomach, especially in those who are lactose intolerant or those who suffer from fructose malabsorption.
  • Caffeine: Consuming a lot of caffeine has a tendency to increase bowel activity.
  • Eating upon waking: Some people eat as soon as they wake up or even eat in bed. Foods first thing in the morning can stimulate defecation reflexes.
  • Food poisoning: Consuming contaminated food leads to morning diarrhea. For example, the bacteria known as e-coli can lead to diarrhea that for some reason tends to be worse in the morning.

What causes morning diarrhea?

If diarrhea is temporary, then it is more likely that a lifestyle issue is a cause. If someone has morning diarrhea for months, it is probably something much more serious.

In the vast majority of cases, diarrhea in the morning can be attributed to an infection or a virus. Influenza is an example. Influenza is a worldwide illness that you can get when you are in close contact with someone else who has it. In less developed countries, the flu can lead to death. In industrialized countries, death is more likely among those who are over the age of 65. For the most part, the flu is manageable and temporary.

The following causes of morning diarrhea are not temporary; in fact, many can be classified as chronic.

Irritable bowel disease (IBS)

This bowel disorder involves abdominal pain, bloating, and either constipation or chronic morning diarrhea. IBS diarrhea tends to be worse when the sufferer is under a lot of stress or consumes certain foods.

Related: IBS back pain: How irritable bowel syndrome causes back pain and what to do about it

Inflammatory bowel disease

IBD essentially means that a person has a disorder characterized by inflammation in the bowel wall. There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). One is Crohn’s disease, and the other is ulcerative colitis. In these cases, diarrhea can be watery with mucus and blood. In severe cases, a person may wake up several times during the night to go to the washroom.


Antibiotic-associated diarrhea can happen after someone takes the medication. Some research suggests as many as one in five people who take antibiotics get diarrhea.

Substance abuse

Both nicotine and alcohol can lead to irritation of the bowel. Sometimes, these substances are used in excess during the evenings, creating the perfect intestinal conditions for diarrhea first thing in the morning.


When pregnant, a woman experiences high levels of hormones such as estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). It is believed that these hormones are linked to typical morning sickness, but can also cause morning sickness diarrhea in pregnancy. While the diarrhea can occur at any time during the day or night, morning tends to be worse.

Psychological stress

When a person is stressed, it can cause diarrhea. The bowel eases when a person is relaxed or asleep; however, when someone wakes up and is feeling intense emotions, it can trigger the bowel and thus diarrhea.


Food allergies can cause cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. Peanuts, dairy products, wheat, eggs, and fruits are the most common food allergies.

Dehydration or electrolyte imbalance

Electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphate, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and chlorine give off an electric charge. Our body depends on electrolytes to control cell membrane strength and to transport electrical charges that our muscles need in order to contract. Dehydration happens when electrolytes are too low or too high. An imbalance can lead to either constipation or diarrhea.


There are some medications that have been linked to morning diarrhea. Antibiotics are an example. For some reason in the case of diarrhea, the problem is more common in the morning.

Candida infection

When someone is impacted by candida or a parasite, diarrhea is common. The fungus that grows in the gut is called candida albicans, but there are several parasites that are also known to cause diarrhea. Entamoebea histolytica and cryptosporidium are examples.

Treatment for morning diarrhea

Once a person determines the cause of diarrhea, treatment can begin. There are many different treatments available, including those outlined here.

  • Eliminating allergies and food intolerance: Keeping a close watch on what foods might be leading to diarrhea can be an easy fix if diet is the main reason for the problem. Allergies and food intolerance can be determined through bio-energetic testing, bioanalysis, meridian stress assessment, diet elimination tests, or bio-meridian testing. Going forward, minimizing or eliminating the specific food from the diet might be all that is required.
  • Probiotics: These are beneficial bacteria that can restore intestinal flora. Probiotics tend to protect against infections that can cause diarrhea. Supplements of probiotics have been known to help prevent diarrhea that is caused by taking antibiotics.
  • Acupuncture: This is considered a healthy and safe option for treatment of diarrhea. Research has demonstrated that it has been effective for many people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Tormentil root: The extracts of this root are known to shorten the duration of diarrhea that is caused by a virus. Tormentil is a small growing herb that is also known as Barren Strawberry.
  • Homeopathy: This has been known to decrease the duration of diarrhea and the number of stools in children who are suffering from acute diarrhea. Aloe socotrina is one homeopathy remedy said to be effective when it comes to curbing diarrhea.
  • Berberine herbs: Plants like barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and goldthread contain alkaloid berberine, which can be helpful in the treatment of infectious diarrhea.
  • Herbal remedies: There are many different herbs known to treat various digestive-related health problems, including morning diarrhea. Peppermint oil, oregano oil, milk thistle, black walnut, red raspberry, aloe vera juice, and ginger are some examples.
  • Supplementation: Activated charcoal, vitamin A, digestive enzymes, betaine hydrochloride, colostrum, L-glutamine, lactase, and vitamin C are supplements that can help treat morning diarrhea.

Prevention of morning diarrhea

Whether you suffer from diarrhea only in the morning or throughout the day, there are ways to prevent future attacks. For instance, aromatherapy, which is basically the use of essential oils, can be helpful. Some essential oils contain antispasmodic properties that are able to relieve stomach cramps and morning diarrhea. Lavender oil and chamomile oil are examples.

Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so it is important to make sure you are getting plenty of fluids. This doesn’t just include water: it could be fluid in the form of fruit, bone broth, or vegetable juices. Of course, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which are substances that tend to trigger the digestive tract and can cause diarrhea, is wise.

Diarrhea can be draining. It not only forces you to run to the washroom several times, it can lead to fatigue, dehydration, as well as severe cramping. Maintaining a healthy diet as well as a regular sleep schedule can keep your body in rhythm and give you a better chance of having a healthy gut. Yes, there are circumstances where diarrhea is brought on by a disorder like IBS. In these cases, the symptoms should not be ignored and medical attention is important.



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