Diarrhea After Eating– Types, Causes, Prevention, and When to See a Doctor?

Diarrhea After Eating

A gurgling tummy and a frowning you just after meals? It is quite understandable that how awkward it could get if you feel the urgency to go to the toilet to defecate right after eating, especially if you get loose stools. Not only awkward, but it is also sometimes painful and discomforting too, mainly when you get painful bowel movements or discomfort until and unless you pass stools. Do you know what diarrhea after eating is known as? Medically, it is termed as postprandial diarrhea or PD. Although this condition is not very unusual or rare, its diagnosis can be a bit difficult at times. Also, sometimes it can be an indication of some other health issue or ailment.

Types of Postprandial Diarrhea 

Postprandial Diarrhea is of two types – acute and chronic. And, the severity of the condition, whether acute or chronic, depends on how adverse the symptoms are and how long will be those last. The former condition may last for a day or two or maximum for a week, whereas the latter condition can bother you for several weeks to even months. Always remember that ongoing digestive trouble should be immediately reported to the doctor, as it could be a warning for something more serious and alarming. So, without wasting any more time, let’s learn about PD in detail, it’s types, cause, and treatments.

What Causes Diarrhea After Eating?

Acute Postprandial Diarrhea 

Sudden episodes of diarrhea just after your meals is called acute PD. It can happen due to many reasons because a simple course of eating can make your large intestinal muscles move or contract in the direction of passing your stools. Moreover, if you have any ongoing trouble with your gut like an infection, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, food poisoning etc., these movements can get more painful, stronger and frequent followed by a feeling of urgency. Some of the main causes of acute PD are given as under –

  • Stomach flu or viral infections
  • Salmonella or E.coli infection (bacterial infections)
  • Giardia (Parasitic infections)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Toddler’s diarrhoea

Prevention of Acute postprandial Diarrhea

Some preventive measures to control acute postprandial diarrhea –

1. Keep your body hydrated

Due to the quick bowel movements during diarrhea, your body is unable to retain the adequate quantity of electrolytes and minerals. Water-loss for a prolonged period can further aggravate the condition. Therefore, it is highly advisable to drink plenty of fluids in the form of water, juices, and soups. It will keep your body hydrated.

2. Try not to resort of over-the-counter medicines

Acute diarrhea usually goes on its own. So, you should wait for sometime before rushing to a nearby medical store to get some pills like Kaopectate or Imodium, handy. Apart from that, these OCDs have some limitations and should not be taken if you are suffering from fever or your stools contains blood or mucus. In the case of children, no medicines should be given without proper consultation with your doctor.

3. Count on your food

Make sure to be very careful with what you eat. Also, it is advisable to have small portions of food at regular intervals.

Do you need to pay a visit to your doctor?

No matter, whether your PD is acute or chronic, you should immediately seek medical help, if you observe the following symptoms –

  • Signs of extreme dehydration such as sunken eyes, decreased or yellowish urine, dry mouth etc.
  • Blood in stool
  • Fever with the thermometer reading 100 F lingering for more the 2 to 3 days
  • Watery stools not going away even after two days (in kids) and five days (in adults)
  • Some of the red-flag symptoms that need immediate medical help include – lack of appetite, weight loss for no significant reason, rectal bleeding, abdominal bleeding, vomiting and anaemia.

Causes of Chronic Postprandial Diarrhea

If your tormenting dining table to bathroom rides have become never-ending, then it’s no more an acute case of PD, but a chronic one. If you are suffering from any of the following symptoms, then note that your meals would make your intestinal contractions worsen making you go to the loo in an urgency. Let’s take a quick look at causes given below –

1. Infections

Just like in the case of acute PD, chronic PD can also be caused by infections including – amoeba, Giadia lamblia, Clostridium difficile etc.

2. Bile acid diarrhea or BAD

Researchers have been trying to find out pieces of evidence to prove that some patients diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome are suffering from Bile Acid Diarrhea. As we know that bile acids or juices are released by the gallbladder for digestion of fat. When the bile juices are not reabsorbed as expected, these tend to make large intestinal contractions stronger and more frequent leading to watery stools. As far as the causes behind BAD are concerned, those are kind of vague. In some cases, the causes are unknown, whereas in some cases, it could be any surgery or conditions associated with the digestive tract, especially small intestine, pancreas or gallbladder.

3. Lactose intolerance

It is a condition wherein people suffering from it don’t produce enough amount of Lactase (an enzyme that breaks down lactose found in dairy products) as a result of which, they are unable to digest milk or milk products leading to diarrhea.

4. Celiac disease

This disease is primarily identified by its autoimmune response whenever anything containing gluten is consumed by the patient. When a person is suffering from this condition, his or her stool is more likely to be found floating, not sinking. This ailment can be alarming. So, before its too late, please see to your doctor.

5. Malabsorption of sugar

Apart from lactose, sorbitol and fructose are two other kinds of sugar that some people find difficult to digest as a result of which they tend to defecate watery stools. The former is found in artificial sweeteners and certain fruit, whereas the latter is found in fruit and corn syrup.

6. Dumping syndrome

If you have recently gone under the knife for getting a bariatric surgery for losing weight, you are more likely to experience this issue. This health condition is also called rapid gastric emptying.

7. Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)

There are two types of IBDs – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both these health conditions can lead to passing watery stools after having means.

Besides the above-mentioned reasons, some of the other causes behind acute PD are – microscopic colitis, pancreatic exocrine insufficiency, colon cancer and removal of the gallbladder.

Prevention of Chronic postprandial diarrhea

Here are some preventive measures to deal with chronic postprandial diarrhea –

  • Go ahead and see your doctor – Issues like chronic postprandial diarrhea should be reported to the doctor as soon as these are discovered. It will help you get proper diagnosis and treatment.
  • Manage meal portions – It’s always a good idea to have small meals at regular intervals of time throughout the day. It will help in better digestion in comparison to eating larger meals.
  • Say ‘No’ to fatty food items – Stay away from fatty food items like red meat, thick and oily gravies, fried food and junk food. These kinds of food can aggravate intestinal contractions to a great extent leading to a melodramatic diarrhoea episode.
  • Calm down with relaxation exercises – There is a direct connection between your gut and your brain. Also, too much stress can also instigate your gut to defecate after eating (diarrhea). Therefore, it is very important to release stress from your life. Relaxation exercises like Pranayam and Anulom-Vilom (breathing exercises) can be better in this regard. A calm mind and relax your tummy too.

Diarrhea After Eating- Foods You Should Eat

While dealing with diarrhea, you might be looking for suitable options to eat because what we eat is what we excrete. Let’s take a quick look at the food you should eat while dealing with watery stools

  • Banana
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Rice
  • Lean meat
  • Yogurt
  • Chicken broth
  • Oatmeal
  • Vegetables
  • Sports drinks

Food to say a big No, No.’

Some food products are prone to aggravate gut-related issues, especially when you are suffering from diarrhea. Take a look at the listicle given below –

  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Fat-rich food
  • Gas-producing preparations
  • Sugar-free products
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Street food

The bottom line when you have postprandial diarrhoea

There is no thumb rule, medical examination or tool available with the doctors to diagnose the main reason behind postprandial diarrhea. This is the reason why most of the medical practitioners prescribe a certain number of tests to find out the actual cause. Therefore, it is highly advisable to see to your doctors whenever your gut’s behaviour tells you that there might be something wrong with it.

Dear reader, prevention is always better than looking for cures. So, stay informed and aware to have a healthy life. Don’t hesitate when it comes to paying a visit to the doctor.


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Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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