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Home arrow Health arrow Gut Health arrow Constipation After Diarrhea: What You Need to Know

Constipation After Diarrhea: What You Need to Know

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: July 18, 2023
5 min read 1560 Views 0 Comments
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If you are battling constipation after diarrhea, keep reading as we discuss possible reasons why a person experiences these unusual bowel patterns.

constipation after diarrhea

So, you’ve just struggled through a spell of diarrhea.

You’re expecting your bowel habits to return to normal. Only now, you seem to be suffering from constipation. Most people only experience one or the other in a particular period, but while constipation after diarrhea is uncommon, it does happen.

It is perfectly normal to experience occasional diarrhea. It’s also normal to experience constipation from time to time. Sometimes the cause is as simple as eating something your body doesn’t agree with or not drinking enough water that day.

If a person experiences both at the same time, it could signal something more.

This article discusses why a person might get constipation after diarrhea, treatment options, and when to visit a doctor.

Constipation After Diarrhea: Can You Have Both at the Same Time?

Yes, you can get diarrhea and constipation at the same time. It is pretty uncommon, but some factors can cause the two conditions to occur simultaneously. There are a handful of possible reasons why a person experiences both. In some cases, it may indicate an underlying cause that requires medical treatment from a healthcare professional.

Diarrhea and constipation are two different health conditions with their own set of specific symptoms. Both are connected with your digestive system, affecting your daily bathroom habits and the consistency and frequency of your bowel movements.

Constipation is when you have irregular bowel movements. It is categorized by fewer than three bowel movements per week. You have hard stools that are difficult, uncomfortable, and often painful to pass. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, constantly feeling bloated, and needing to vomit.

If you experience diarrhea, you pass watery, loose stool frequently. You may feel a repeat, sudden urge to have a bowel movement. It can be accompanied by other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, fever, and loss of appetite.

What Are the Causes of Constipation After Diarrhea?

Constipation after diarrhea can occur for a few reasons. If you are dealing with these irregular bowel movements, consider what might be causing the problem. You should contact your doctor for advice if you suffer from severe constipation after diarrhea.

Below, you can learn about some potential causes of constipation following a bout of diarrhea.

#1 Poor diet

Often, poor diet is the number one cause of irregular bowel movements. For instance, not getting enough dietary fiber can make it difficult to pass stool. Additionally, not drinking enough water can cause harder stool, as the colon doesn’t have enough water to soften it.

Dietary changes can also affect the digestive system, as your body needs time to adjust to the new changes. If you try a new diet or eating pattern, it may temporarily take its toll on your digestive health. Intermittent fasting side effects include constipation and diarrhea.

It’s also possible that certain foods don’t agree with you. Intolerance or allergic reaction could be the culprit causing irritation in the intestines. For example, many people have adverse reactions to common food allergens, such as dairy milk, eggs, soy, and wheat.

While you may not have a food allergy, consumption of certain ingredients, like caffeine, can worsen symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. Focus on your diet and try to identify anything that might be upsetting the gut bacteria and causing your digestive tract grief.

#2 Stomach bug

A stomach bug, like viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu), is a temporary viral infection that causes inflammation of the intestines. This makes it difficult for the bowel to absorb water as normal, causing diarrhea. It can also cause nausea, low-grade fever, and stomach pain.

The after-effects of stomach flu can lead to constipation for a few reasons. Diarrhea and fever cause your body to lose fluids, leaving you dehydrated. Dehydration is a leading cause of constipation. Furthermore, intestinal inflammation may linger as you recover.

#3 Medicine you’re taking

While medicine is prescribed to treat a specific issue, it can adversely affect other aspects of your health. Certain medications can cause digestive problems, including significant changes in your bathroom habits. It’s worth checking with your doctor about the side effects.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, and antibiotics are among the common medications that may cause people to experience diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive issues. The reaction is often temporary and improves as your body adapts.

Still, you should discuss the medicine with your healthcare provider if symptoms persist or you experience chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea.

#4 Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive disorder that affects your GI tract, including both the small intestine and the large intestine. IBS symptoms include back pain, bloating, stomach cramps, and altered bowel movements. People with IBS can experience both constipation and diarrhea.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is another condition that affects gut health. It has symptoms similar to IBS, and many experience cycles between diarrhea and constipation. Other symptoms can include abdominal pains, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.

How to Treat Diarrhea and Constipation at the Same Time

It can be incredibly frustrating when you cannot have a healthy bowel movement. Hard stool is difficult to pass, while diarrhea leaves you feeling exhausted and sick. Fortunately, there are some ways to treat and prevent constipation and loose, watery stool.

#1 Medical treatment

Medical treatment for underlying conditions usually includes prescribed medications to ease and manage symptoms. Lifestyle changes are also recommended to reduce triggers. This can include limiting or avoiding certain foods, exercising regularly, and practicing self-care.

#2 Fiber supplementation

Fiber supplements increase your fiber intake and promote regularity and healthy bowel movement. Not getting an adequate amount of fiber in your meal plan can trigger bowel dysfunction. Fiber supplementation can also regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

One of the main ingredients in these supplements is dietary fiber which acts as a mild, bulk-forming laxative, preventing constipation and combating diarrhea. They also detoxify the body.

#3 Creating new lifestyle habits

Making positive lifestyle changes will help your gut function at optimal levels.

When constipation hits, exercise helps stimulate and contract the intestinal muscles, encouraging a bowel movement. It can also reduce anxiety – an important factor if stress is behind your digestive issues.

Eating healthily will always improve digestion. Focus on whole foods, like grains, fruits, vegetables, and fiber – which is crucial for balancing the gut bacteria. Limit processed foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar, as these ingredients can irritate the GI tract.

When to Contact a Doctor

Most of the time, constipation after diarrhea is not a serious cause for concern that requires medical treatment. You can usually attribute the event to a particular reason, such as stomach flu or medication. 

Nevertheless, you should always contact a healthcare provider if you have severe or ongoing symptoms that don’t clear up.

Constipation can become an emergency. Some warning signs are symptoms like severe stomach pain, black or bloody stool, fever, and not passing a bowel movement for a whole week. Seek medical advice as soon as possible if you get these symptoms.

A Word From Our MD

Diarrhea alongside constipation is uncommon, but it happens.

It can be difficult to identify the exact cause. A good place to start is by looking at your diet and any medication you take. These are contributing factors that can upset your bathroom routine. You can expect temporary bowel changes if you’re recovering from stomach flu.

If bouts of constipation after diarrhea are common for you, it might be due to an underlying condition. Irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease are common conditions that throw your usual digestive routine out of whack.

There are plenty of ways to promote better gut health. Dietary-wise, you should focus on getting adequate fiber and eating lots of foods that help with constipation to get your bowels moving again. Even on a ketogenic diet, you can eat plenty of keto-friendly fiber foods.

Moreover, simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Drinking lots of water daily, limiting highly-processed foods, and exercising regularly, are essential for a healthy gut. You could try walking 10,000 steps a day or take up another physical activity that you enjoy.


Constipation after diarrhea can sometimes occur, especially if you have a digestive disorder. If you can’t pinpoint the cause and symptoms don’t subside or worsen, it’s best to reach out to a healthcare professional for a check-up and advice on what to do next.

Fiber supplements are one treatment option you can try to support both digestive problems while promoting healthier bowel movements in the future.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: July 18, 2023
5 min read 1560 Views 0 Comments

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