Diarrhea at night


Nocturnal diarrhea is in most cases a chronic disease rather than an acute infection. Diarrhea is defined as having at least three unformed stools with an increased proportion of water.

Nocturnal diarrhea suggests an organic cause or what is known as irritable bowel syndrome and a disease caused by bacteria or viruses. Treatment varies greatly depending on the cause. A precise description of the frequency and consistency of the stool is important for diagnosis.


The causes of nocturnal diarrhea vary widely. Nocturnal diarrhea is more of an organic cause than an acute infection with bacteria or viruses.

One possible cause is what is known as irritable bowel syndrome. People have gas, diarrhea, and constipation, and symptoms increase as the day progresses. Genetic predispositions have just as much influence on the occurrence of the disease as the existence of psychologically stressful experiences such as abuse. It can therefore be assumed that it is a mixture of physical causes and psychosomatic causes.

Also read the article on the topic: Diarrhea and psyche

Another possibility for diarrhea at night is the onset of a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. These people also suffer from severe abdominal pain and chronic diarrhea.

Other diseases can also lead to colon inflammation. An insufficient supply of oxygen to individual sections of the intestine can also limit its function and thus lead to diarrhea. With early detection and treatment, however, the symptoms are reduced.

Read more about this: Causes of diarrhea

Irritable bowel syndrome

In the past, irritable bowel syndrome was considered a diagnosis of exclusion if other diseases could not explain the symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disease with severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. People often complain of feeling bloated. The complaints increase further towards the night.

There is a familial disposition to irritable bowel symptoms and stressful events also seem to play a role in its development.Treatment is therefore often not purely symptomatic; psychosomatic care may also be required.

This article might also interest you: Irritable bowel syndrome


There is a huge number of possible diagnostic tests for diarrheal diseases. However, most are very time consuming and expensive.

The most important part of the diagnosis lies in the patient survey. Information on the frequency of symptoms, the nature of the diarrhea, other symptoms and previous illnesses can help the doctor with the diagnosis.
Other options include stool samples, blood samples, and a colonoscopy. An examination for food intolerance can also be useful.

Other accompanying symptoms

The other symptoms depend on the underlying disease.
People with irritable bowel syndrome often suffer from colicky abdominal pain and gas. Heartburn, nausea, and urination problems have also been reported.

With inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, those affected also report abdominal pain and nausea. Since Crohn's disease also affects the upper areas of the digestive tract, it also leads to stomach inflammation with nausea and heartburn, as well as inflammation in the oral cavity.

In the event of an acute lack of oxygen, for example due to an abdominal infarction, the diarrhea can also lead to severe pain. First, patients report increasing pain and then rest, followed by increased pain.

Cancer causes bloody diarrhea and those affected report attacks of fever, weight loss and night sweats. In addition to diarrhea, some illnesses also lead to fecal incontinence, which also occurs particularly at night.

Learn more about: Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Treatment / therapy

Depending on the underlying disease, the treatment of the diarrheal disease can look very different.
In the case of food intolerances, in most cases it is sufficient to omit the respective food.

In the case of inflammatory bowel disease, the diet and water balance must first be balanced. This also includes replacement therapy with vitamins and certain nutrients.
In severe relapses, this substitute nutrition can also be given through the blood. Medicinally, we put glucocorticoids in the thrust. Immunosuppressants are used between attacks.

Surgical removal of severely affected sections of the intestine and the placement of an artificial anus are also possible.

A healthy diet with small meals often helps with irritable bowel symptoms, and psychosomatic therapy can also provide relief for those affected.

Duration / forecast

For most of those affected, nocturnal diarrhea is chronic or at least long-lasting. The symptoms can be reduced, so that the quality of life of those affected increases, but a cure is rarely possible.