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Diarrhea immediately after eating is often associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and can vary from a firm stool to an explosive watery expulsion. Diarrhea after eating may not always occur immediately after a meal and in most cases there is a delay between 20 minutes to one hour after eating. While irritable bowel syndrome is not a clearly defined medical disorder and with no known cause, medical science has identified  trigger factors and lifestyle changes that can improve the condition.

Diarrhea after eating is not only due to irritable bowel syndrome but most cases are seen in IBS sufferer. It is an inconvenient and uncomfortable bowel disorder that can affect the sufferer’s life and self confidence. In severe cases, it can prove to be embarrassing if the sufferer soils their clothing or has to dash out of a social gathering in search of suitable toilet facilities.

It is important to identify the cause of your diarrhea after eating as it could be treatable or may require immediate medical attention. However most chronic cases of diarrhea after eating are associated with irritable bowel syndrome and there is no established course of treatment for IBS.

If you have recently suffered with a bout of gastric flu (stomach flu, tummy bug, diarrhea flu), you may find that you are suffering with diarrhea immediately after eating although you have overcome the infection. This may also occur after a bout of food poisoning. The reason for this persistent loose watery stool immediately after eating is the lack of the normal intestinal bowel flora. These ‘good’ intestinal bacteria are easily eradicated by any infection and may not restore their total population after the infection. The ‘bad’ bacteria settles in and further aggravates your diarrhea immediately after eating. The only way to restore normal bowel function in these cases is to use a probiotic – live culture yoghurt or Lactobacillus spore capsules or Saccharoymyces boulardi capsules which is more effective.  Most sufferers in these cases experience relief within 2 days of using these probiotics. Refer to the management options below.

Causes :

  • Irritable bowel syndrome / spastic colon
  • Disturbance of intestinal bowel flora
  • Viral gastroenteritis (gastric flu, tummy bug, diarrhea flu)
  • Food poisoning
  • Inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis

Symptoms :

  • Urging within a few minutes after eating.
  • Evacuation within an hour after every meal
  • Gas and bloating

The following symptoms are a result of frequent evacuations and may not affect every sufferer.:

  • Hemorrhoids (piles)
  • Raw and/or burning anus
  • Itching of the anus

Treatment :

  • Anti-diarrheal agents, tablets and suspensions, may be useful for short periods of time. This should not be used in a viral or bacterial cause of your diarrhea.
  • Drugs that slow down bowel motility may be of assistance in irritable bowel syndrome and should only be used under the supervision of a medical practitioner.
  • Antibiotics can be of assistance in a bacterial infection and certain cases of food poisoning.

Management :

  • Supplements high in soluble and insoluble fiber are useful in managing the condition but will not provide lasting relief.
  • Activated charcoal tablets can be considered in cases of food poisoning and excessive gas and flatulence.
  • Probiotics containing spores of bacterial populations and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardi indigenous to your bowel can be beneficial and can be used in capsule form.
  • Identify and avoid trigger foods. Spicy foods, artificial sweeteners, preservatives like MSG (monosodium glutamate), shell fish and dairy (lactose intolerance) is reported as trigger foods by most sufferers.
  • Remove all stimulants from your diet and lifestyle including caffeine, nicotine and guarana.

Naturopathic & Homeopathic Treatment :

  • Most alternative therapies adopt a similar management plan as above in addition to removing foods such as dairy, highly fermented foods and drinks and refined wheat or sugar products.
  • The homeopathic remedy Thuja occidentalis 6CH to 30CH can be useful in managing your condition if used daily.
  • A homeopathic complex of Podophyllum 6CH, Arsenicum album 6CH and Mag phos D6 may assist with explosive diarrhea or loose watery stool after eating.
  • A probiotic with Saccharomyces boulardi is helpful if taken for at least 5 days every few weeks. This probiotic is available globally under different trade names from your pharmacy and should be started immediately if you are experiencing loose watery stool for more than 2 days irrespective of the cause. In acute cases this type of probiotic used with activated charcoal tablets can be useful.
  • Certain herbal remedies are reported to assist in diarrhea after eating and a powder blend of Essiac formula (burdock root, rhubarb, sorrel and slippery elm) used daily along with a suitable probiotic containing Saccharomyces boulardi may offer some relief.