What Are the Most Common Causes of Morning Diarrhea?

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  • Originally Written By: C. Daw
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 January 2019
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The most common cause of morning diarrhea — which is to say, diarrhea that strikes first thing in the morning or soon after waking but isn’t persistent throughout the day — is irritable bowel syndrome, a medical condition in which the bowels react abnormally and often somewhat unpredictably. Other common causes include adverse reactions to prescription drugs, particularly antibiotics, and digestive afflictions like Crohn’s disease. Bacteria and some viruses might also be to blame. People who notice ongoing morning diarrhea are usually advised to get medical help. Issues like food poisoning will normally go away on their own, but other more complicated syndromes or conditions may require treatment. Even with treatment the diarrhea may not disappear completely, but keeping things under control can prevent it from getting worse.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common cause and is usually the first medical condition that patients will be checked for when these types of symptoms surface. IBS is caused when the intestines and colon do not contract as smoothly as they are supposed to, and can usually be traced back to a person’s diet. Changes in basic eating patterns often solve this problem, whether it is simply eating earlier in the evening or eating healthier, more natural foods that are low in salt and other irritants. Yogurts with live and active cultures and bananas are two common foods recommended for healing and better stool stability. Allergic reactions to specific foods can also cause IBS.


Reactions to Medication

Some medications can also affect the stools. Antibiotics are often particularly problematic Though antibiotic-related problems can actually occur at any time of the day, early morning diarrhea is usually the most common because as a person wakes up, so do the body’s various internal organs, at least in a sense; they enter out of a sleep state of dormancy and become more active. Medication that has been lingering in the bloodstream over night often causes the most severe reaction during this “rebooting” phase.


Various diseases can also cause problems with the stools in the morning, perhaps most notably Crohn’s disease, which is a condition affecting the lining of the colon; colon cancer; and colitis, or inflammation of the large intestine. All three of these are considered “chronic,” which means in part that they won’t go away on their own. Each also has a long list of symptoms that goes beyond just diarrhea in the mornings. Diarrhea is usually one of the earliest indicators that something is wrong, but is rarely enough to make a diagnosis on.

Bacteria and Viruses

Sometimes the problem may be caused by a bacteria or viral infection that a person has picked up, usually through tainted food. Standard food poisoning and E. coli are usually among the most common. Though these sorts of infections typically cause vomiting and diarrhea throughout the day, it is sometimes the case that it happens only in the morning if the reaction is mild or related only to something that was consumed just before bedtime.

Getting Help

Getting to the root cause of the problem can be difficult in part because there are so many different potential culprits. The most accurate and usually also the safest way for people to get answers is to schedule a visit with a licensed medical provider. Providers will usually begin by learning a bit about the person’s lifestyle, including stress, diet, and exercise patterns; in some cases, simple changes here are all that’s needed to see positive change. Lab work may also be required, though, including tissue samples from the bowel and stool samples.

People who have chronic morning diarrhea, which means that it happens more or less every day, may also need a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a basic procedure in which a small camera is inserted through the rectum and up through the bowels and colon. It is designed to give medical providers a true “inside” look at what is happing in the lower digestive tract, and can really help in the diagnosis of things like colon cancer and Crohn’s disease.


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Post 2

I am a Canadian living in China. Since living in the desert, every summer I seem to get the trots only in the morning. After I wake up, I visit the bathroom and I feel great! Then about half an hour after waking I seem to get what feels like my stomach churning, I feel like I have to pass gas, then I have to go to the bathroom. And every short amount of time for about two hours, I have to go back to the bathroom.

I eat very well and I do not eat any dairy or processed foods. I don't eat any cold foods.

Recently, I found out that it is not just me who gets this in the summer. Many people I work with experience the same thing. We don't eat the same kind of foods, so that is not a common denominator. Any thoughts?

Post 1

I am an 83 year old female and for the last two or three years get morning diarrhea. I have about four or five liquid movements, and then the whole day I am fine. What could be the cause? Please help.

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