Most coffee lovers have had the unpleasant experience of getting diarrhea after drinking coffee. If this is a regular occurrence, you’ll want to know what you can do to prevent diarrhea after coffee.
You can prevent diarrhea from coffee by drinking less than 2 to 3 cups a day, eating food with your coffee, and opting for low-acid coffee.
This article will teach you why coffee gives you diarrhea in the first place and what you can do to prevent it. It will also help you understand what you can do if you experience diarrhea after drinking coffee.
Table of Contents
- What Exactly Is Diarrhea?
- See Your Doctor If You Have This Type of Diarrhea
- Why Do You Get Diarrhea from Coffee?
- How Much Coffee Causes Diarrhea?
- Acid in Coffee and Diarrhea
- Coffee on an Empty Stomach and Diarrhea
- Coffee and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- What Do You Do If You Get Diarrhea from Coffee?
- Final Thoughts
What Exactly Is Diarrhea?
Most of us understand that diarrhea means we have loose and potentially watery stools. And unfortunately, we know that these stools happen very frequently if the diarrhea is bad.
But diarrhea can also be accompanied by other uncomfortable symptoms aside from abnormal stool. These additional symptoms could include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Urge that you’re going to have a bowel movement before it occurs
Diarrhea is just a symptom in itself. It’s not a diagnosis.
The cause of diarrhea can be as simple as eating something your body doesn’t like to more severe underlying diseases.
See Your Doctor If You Have This Type of Diarrhea
Most diarrhea is not a medical emergency. However, there are some cases where you will want to see your doctor regarding your diarrhea.
The following situations with your diarrhea may warrant a trip to your doctor:
- Your diarrhea is accompanied by a fever
- Your diarrhea is accompanied by severe vomiting
- Your diarrhea has blood in it
- Your diarrhea is black or tarry in appearance
- Severe abdominal pain that does not ease
- Diarrhea accompanied by lightheadedness or dizziness
- Your diarrhea does not go away within 4 to 5 days
If you have any of these symptoms, you must consult your doctor. Recall that diarrhea itself is a symptom, not a diagnosis.
Because it’s a symptom, your doctor may need to help you determine the underlying pathology if you are experiencing one of these more serious symptoms alongside your diarrhea.
Why Do You Get Diarrhea from Coffee?
Research shows that the caffeine in coffee increases gut motility. This is a fancy way of saying it makes your stomach and intestines contract more.
This increase in contractions can cause the stool in your bowels to become loose or liquid-like. It may also result in uncomfortable abdominal cramps.
It’s important to note, though, that multiple foods and beverage items can cause diarrhea. So make sure it’s not something you’re having alongside your coffee that is at the root of your diarrhea.
How Much Coffee Causes Diarrhea?
Research has not shown the answer to this question, but qualitative research can give a general idea.
A study asked doctors about the trends they saw in individuals with chronic diarrhea regarding coffee. These doctors generally recommended that patients didn’t consume any more than 2 to 3 cups per day to prevent diarrhea.
Individuals who consumed more than 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day were more likely to have frequent episodes of diarrhea. It does not matter whether you drink caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.
The best way to answer this question is to test it out. Some people may get away with drinking more coffee without diarrhea, while others can drink much less.
Acid in Coffee and Diarrhea
One factor to consider when it comes to your coffee and diarrhea is the acid in the coffee.
One study found that darker roasts have less acid. The low-acid dark roast was less likely to result in gut issues like diarrhea than a more acidic medium roast.
The evidence regarding coffee acid and its impact on gut function is currently limited. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying low-acid coffee to see how your body responds.
As the article stated, darker roasts will generally have less acid. So try switching out your coffee for a dark roast and see if this helps you avoid diarrhea.
Coffee on an Empty Stomach and Diarrhea
Another factor that could make your diarrhea worse when it comes to coffee is drinking it on an empty stomach. Many of us have that first cup before breakfast.
Research shows that after drinking coffee, some individuals will get gut motility near their rectum within as soon as 4 minutes. This means that the caffeine will start acting on your guts quite quickly.
If you drink coffee on an empty stomach, you’re at an increased risk of creating loose and liquid stools due to a lack of fiber from food.
If possible, pair your coffee with food. In particular, pairing your coffee with food high in fiber may help solidify your stool and make you less likely to experience diarrhea.
Coffee and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
If you commonly get diarrhea and experience other digestive issues regularly, you should not just brush them off. There is a potential that you may have a diagnosis called irritable bowel syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a condition where your stomach and intestines get easily irritated, resulting in symptoms like diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
Unfortunately, coffee was associated with increasing gut symptoms like diarrhea in individuals with IBS. And research has also found that adults who regularly drink coffee may be at a higher risk of developing IBS.
So if you already have irritable bowel syndrome or think you may have it, talk with your doctor first. Sadly, you may want to try avoiding coffee for a while to see if this helps ease some of your symptoms.
What Do You Do If You Get Diarrhea from Coffee?
When you get diarrhea from coffee, the first step is to avoid consuming more coffee, as this will only worsen things. The next step would be to stay hydrated. Drink water or electrolytes.
Research indicates that you will want to start eating foods that contain fiber to help slow down stool movements. Foods high in fiber include bananas, apples, potatoes, whole grains, beans, and berries.
If you’re looking for faster relief, you may want to try something like Pepto-Bismol. Research suggests that Pepto-Bismol effectively treats acute diarrhea for most adults.
You can treat diarrhea from coffee with these options. But you’re better off implementing the tips from this article to try to avoid it in the first place.
No one likes to have diarrhea after their cup of joe, but it can happen. It happens because coffee increases the contractions in your bowels, resulting in a loose and liquid-like stool.
Most diarrhea is not a medical emergency. However, some symptoms do need medical attention. Refer to the list of symptoms in the article to know if you need to see your doctor about your diarrhea.
You can take active steps to reduce your risk of getting diarrhea after coffee. These steps include drinking fewer than 2 to 3 cups daily, eating food with your coffee, and using a low-acid coffee.
If you do get diarrhea from coffee, make sure to drink plenty of water and eat some food with fiber in it. You can also use options like Pepto-Bismol to help reduce your symptoms.
If your morning cup of joe gives you the runs, it’s time to change something. Use the tips from this article to keep you and your bowels happy when drinking your favorite coffee.