What are Common Causes of Diarrhea and Upset Stomach?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 09 February 2020
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There are a large number of potential causes of diarrhea and upset stomach. Some of the most common include eating too fast, intolerance to a certain type of food, and excess use of anti-inflammatory drugs. There are also a number of more serious conditions that can cause these gastrointestinal problems, including irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. Bacterial and viral infections may result in diarrhea along with other symptoms.

Eating too quickly is a common cause of an upset stomach. In some cases, this can also cause diarrhea. The problem can often be made worse if the food contains a large amount of fat. Additionally, a diet high in fat, over a period of time, can cause an increased chance of an upset stomach.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can sometimes cause diarrhea and upset stomach. This is especially common if a person has to take the drug over an extended period of time. If a patient suspects that a certain drug is causing an upset stomach, then he or she should discontinue usage and visit a doctor.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a potential cause of long-term stomach pain and loose stool. It is a condition that can be caused by infection or excess stress; there is no cure although dietary modification can help. Other symptoms of the condition include pain in the abdomen, bloating, and a change in bowel habits.


Colitis is a condition where the colon becomes inflamed. This can lead to diarrhea and upset stomach, along with other symptoms including fatigue and a loss of appetite. It is part of a category known as inflammatory bowel diseases, which often cause similar symptoms.

Bacterial infections can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach. Bacteria, such as E.Coli, can be contracted from food that has been prepared incorrectly or from unclean water. There are a number of types of bacteria that can cause diarrhea, and the severity of the condition depends on the type involved.

Viral infections are similar and can also cause diarrhea. One of the most common amongst adults is norovirus. Children are most likely to be infected with rotavirus.

There are many other potential causes of an upset stomach and diarrhea. For example, inflammation of the pancreas and alcohol abuse are two less common potential causes. If the symptoms of diarrhea and upset stomach last for more than a few days, then the patient should see a doctor.


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Post 3

@ysmina-- Yes, IBS causes diarrhea. How many times a day do you have to go? You are on medications, right?

If it's more than twice a day, then you need to see your doctor. Unfortunately, medications aren't able to eliminate diarrhea in IBS patients completely but they can reduce it.

I used to have to go about six times everyday before I started my current medication. Now it's only once or twice. So if your medication is not working for you, you need to have it changed.

Post 2

@feruze-- You're lucky. I have IBS and have stomach pains and diarrhea every day.

Post 1

The only times I've had diarrhea and upset stomach were when I had food poisoning. It happened once when I was traveling abroad and the second time was when I ate left-over fast-food from the day before.

Food poisoning causes the worst abdominal pain and diarrhea. I was basically running in and out of the bathroom and rolling around in bed from the pain the whole night. I had to go to the hospital for an IV and antibiotics both times.

I don't take chances with food anymore. If I'm not sure that the food is good, it goes into the trash can.

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