Concurrent bloating and diarrhea are common gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms that can disrupt your life.
If your symptoms only last a few days, they may be simply caused by a food disagreeing with you or a mild illness like food poisoning or a stomach flu. Chronic and severe symptoms might be a sign of a potentially serious condition like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Keep reading to learn more about some of the reasons why you may have bloating and diarrhea at the same time.
Eating too much
Eating too much can overload your GI system and can cause symptoms such as bloating or diarrhea.
Almost everybody eats too much from time to time. If it becomes a regular problem, it can be a sign of a binge eating disorder.
One of the defining symptoms of binge eating disorder is having a sense of lack of control during overeating episodes. On average, binge eating occurs at least once a week for a minimum of 3 months.
Too much fiber
Most nutritionists recommend an intake of about
Fiber adds bulk to your stool that helps it move through your GI tract and keeps your gut healthy.
Consuming too much fiber can cause bloating or other symptoms like diarrhea or gas. People at risk include:
- those who eat a lot of legumes or vegetables
- those taking fiber supplements
- those who quickly increase their fiber intake
Food intolerance or allergy
Food allergies are when your immune system overreacts to certain foods — such as dairy, peanuts, or soy — and an abnormal response is triggered. In severe cases, a food allergy can cause anaphylaxis.
Both food allergies and intolerances can cause symptoms like bloating or diarrhea.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Other symptoms may include:
Stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis)
Symptoms are similar to those of the stomach flu.
Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO)
- intestinal motility disorders
- chronic pancreatitis
Medication side effects
Many medications cause bloating or diarrhea as a side effect. For example, antibiotics can destroy healthy bacteria in your gut, which may cause GI symptoms.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease triggered by consuming gluten. Gluten is found in:
Diverticulitis is inflammation of sacs along your gastrointestinal tract that can cause pain, bloating, diarrhea, and other GI symptoms.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Many conditions that cause bloating and diarrhea also cause gas. They include:
- medication side effects
- eating too much fiber
- food intolerances
- food allergies
Bloating and diarrhea usually aren’t serious, but it’s important to see a doctor if you have:
Doctors may use the following tests to diagnose your condition.
|Food intolerance or allergy||• eliminating certain foods and slowly adding them back to see if you have a reaction (elimination diet)|
• blood test
• lactose breath test
|IBS||• tests to rule out other conditions|
|Stomach flu||• stool tests|
|Food poisoning||• stool tests|
• other tests, based on your symptoms
|SIBO||• breath test |
• endoscopy to take an intestinal fluid sample
|Celiac disease||• blood tests |
|Diverticulitis||• blood tests |
• stool tests
• imaging tests (such as X-ray or CT scan)
|IBD||• endoscopy or colonoscopy|
• imaging tests
Treatment options include the following.
|Eating too much fiber||• lowering fiber intake|
|Food intolerance or allergy||• avoiding triggering foods |
• lactase pills for lactose intolerance
|IBS||• medications for symptoms |
• avoiding certain foods
• eating smaller meals
|SIBO||• antibiotics |
• nutritional supplements
|Stomach flu||• getting plenty of rest and fluids |
• medications to reduce symptoms
|Food poisoning||• getting plenty of rest and fluids |
• medications to reduce symptoms
|Celiac disease||• avoiding gluten|
|Medication side effects||• changing medication or dose|
|Diverticulitis||• antibiotics |
• anti-inflammatory medications
• pain medications
|IBD||• dietary changes |
• other medications
Bloating and diarrhea are common and often occur together. Most causes, such as stomach flu or food poisoning, usually aren’t serious.
It’s a good idea to speak with a doctor if your symptoms are severe or interfering with your daily life. They can order tests to help find the underlying cause.