Morning diarrhea is when a person passes a loose, watery stool first thing in the morning. The need to go to the bathroom may wake someone with morning diarrhea up. They may also feel they need to go urgently when they first get up.
Most people experience morning diarrhea at some point. Occasional morning diarrhea may be a sign of a temporary illness or the result of lifestyle choices. However, having morning diarrhea on a regular basis may be a sign of an underlying condition.
What are the Lifestyle Causes of Morning Diarrhoea?
Lifestyle choices that may cause morning diarrhea include some of the following common habits:
- Smoking cigarettes: Nicotine can cause loose stools. Morning diarrhea may occur if a person smokes before they go to bed or first thing in the morning.
- Drinking too much alcohol: Alcohol can also cause loose stools. Morning diarrhea may be caused by drinking too much alcohol the night before.
- Midnight snacking: Morning diarrhea may be caused by getting up in the night to eat or snacking before bed.
- Drinking too much coffee: Caffeine increases bowel movements. Too much coffee may cause morning diarrhea.
- Eating a large breakfast: Having a big breakfast shortly after waking up may overstimulate the bowels, which may cause morning diarrhea.
- Taking medication: Medications such as antibiotics can cause morning diarrhea.
Temporary conditions that may cause morning diarrhea include:
- Food poisoning: Morning diarrhea may be caused by eating food that has passed its shelf life or been contaminated by bacteria.
- Virus: A virus such as influenza may cause morning diarrhea.
- Bacterial infection: A bacterial infection may cause morning diarrhea.
- Pregnancy: Morning diarrhea may be a response to changing hormone levels caused by pregnancy. Changing hormones may also cause morning sickness to occur.
- Psychological stress: The bowel can be stimulated when a person is stressed or anxious, which can cause morning diarrhea.
- Dehydration: Dehydration affects electrolyte balance. Electrolyte imbalance can stimulate the gut and cause diarrhea, as electrolytes control how cell membranes work and transport electrical signals that cause muscles to contract.
Long-term conditions that may cause morning diarrhea include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): One of the leading causes of morning diarrhea is IBS. Psychological stress and certain foods may be triggers, but the exact cause of IBS is unknown. Although a 2016 study found links between anxiety, depression, and IBS.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions which cause inflammation in the gut. Conditions include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Allergies: People who eat foods they are allergic or sensitive to may develop irritation of the gut, leading to morning diarrhea. Common food allergens include peanuts, wheat, egg, dairy, and fruit.
How Can I Treat morning diarrhea?
When lifestyle factors cause morning diarrhea, a person can make some changes to try to reduce the irritants causing the problem.
If an allergy is responsible for causing morning diarrhea, then the best way to prevent the condition occurring is to cut any irritating foods out of the diet completely.
Anyone who thinks that IBS or IBD is causing the morning diarrhea must see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. The first step in diagnosing the cause of the morning diarrhea is to identify the symptoms of each condition.
The symptoms of IBS, in addition to morning diarrhea, are:
- stomach cramps
- mucus in stools
The symptoms of IBD, in addition to morning diarrhea, are:
- stomach pain
- weight loss
- blood in stool
A doctor can help determine whether a person has IBS or IBD and give appropriate treatment.
Having diarrhea can cause dehydration. This can affect older people, children, and those with underlying conditions more seriously. Drinking plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration is essential if someone has diarrhea.
Most causes of morning diarrhea are temporary and soon pass. People should speak to their doctor if the diarrhea does not go away.